Mount Mabu unveiled

Perhaps, over the holidays, you read about the unspoiled forest “discovered” using Google Earth by researchers from Kew Garden, London, who subsequently found a range of new species when they travelled there. Given that the press speaking points (and hence the news articles) put such an emphasis on the role of Google Earth in the narrative, you’d expect that the media would perhaps show the forest on a Google Map alongside the web versions of their articles. No such luck.

Ogle Earth to the rescue, then: According to the media stories, the forest lies on the slopes of Mount Mabu. has “Serra Mabu/Monte Mabu” in its exhaustive database, and there is indeed a large patch of bright unruffled green right around there…

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Geonames continues to amaze me with how it always has a location for any place name you care to throw at it. One of my most used tools in Google Earth is in fact the network link to Google Earth that Geonames provides after you search its database. The network link does a location-based search of its database for your field of view every time you stop moving — and as such it is great for browsing remote places. Just save that link in My Places and turn it on anytime you want to know the name of that strange feature you’ve found at in the middle of the Sahara, Siberia, or north-central Mozambique.

A slightly more whimsical thought: Notice how the newly discovered forest is defined by a dearth of named features in Geonames’s database? Perhaps it might be possible to devise an algorithm to find other such “holes” and then seeing which of those are unspoiled biomes (as opposed to lakes or mountain ranges. (Panoramio, Google Earth Community, Wikipedia and every other base layer in Google Earth all come up empty-handed for this particular spot — yet another hint.)

One thought on “Mount Mabu unveiled”

  1. Interesting idea Stefan… although I suspect that such an algorithm would end up getting most of the Canadian Shield and Siberia!

    But how realistic is this? Would it be possible to do it outside of Google? I’ve been fascinated how populated some areas have become with Panoramio pix over the past year, and from certain zoom levels how much the gaps really stand out. If one wants to get off the beaten path these days, this might not be a bad tool to use for planning.

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