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New online tool shows eco-impact of land use decisions

NGO Winrock International yesterday launched an online interactive tool that shows the environmental impact of land use decisions, allowing the government to review the effects of policies on the eco-system.

The Watershed Environmental Services Tool, dubbed WESTool and part of the USAID Supporting Forests and Biodiversity Project, is the culmination of two years of research collecting data from both governmental and scientific sources dating from 2000 to 2013.

Winrock deputy chief of party Joel Jurgens said the NGO wanted to draw attention to how unchecked development could harm local ecosystems.

“[The tool] provides scientifically verified estimates of the impacts of both past land use changes and future land use changes,” Jurgens said in an email.

“[It’s] very useful for collecting information about areas which have protection status, such as wildlife sanctuaries, economic land concessions or specific watersheds.”

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