Planning a trip to the Ngongwa-Busangi Forest Reserve in Tanzania anytime soon? Yeah, neither are we. Unless you're an avid world traveler, seeing the planet's sanctuaries isn't really an option. To help you explore them, at least virtually, The World Database on Protected Areas is introducing ProtectedPlanet.net. Using Google Maps, ProtectedPlanet shortcuts you to the national parks, game and forest reserves across the globe—like this satellite picture of the coast of Tanzania, complete with a biodiversity overlay.
By clicking on one of the mapped protected areas, you can check out pictures, points of interest, and link to information provided by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, like what animal and plant species live in the area, as well as images of the individual creatures. For example, click on Galapagos, and view images of the sunset, coastline, and check out information on the area's 7,126 animals.
Additionally, WDPA-Marine lets you check out protected waters around the world (only .7% of the world's oceans are), with overlay designating coral (orange), mangroves (green), and sea grass (lime green).
Google Maps provides you with a lot of the same imagery—although not yet at the magnification scale you'd hope—but visiting these specialized sites offers an added dimension of meta-data that you won't find elsewhere.
[Via Google Maps Mania]