Jon Hoekstra (“Networking Nature,” March/April 2014) summarizes well some of the ways that technology is improving conservation efforts, including through the use of LIDAR, a laser-imaging technology that measures forests from a plane. The U.S. Agency for International Development, in partnership with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is currently using that technology to measure forest cover in western Colombia. The agency is also using satellite imagery to help Bang­ladesh predict disastrous floods more than a week before they occur and investing in new ways of reducing wildlife poaching and trafficking. Over the last 50 years, a host of new actors have become active in conservation; USAID hopes to mobilize this energy to overcome critical environmental problems.


Assistant Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development