The Global Rain Forest Mapping (GRFM) project is an international endeavour led by the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA), with the aim of producing spatially and temporally contiguous Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data sets over the tropical belt on the Earth by use of the JERS-1 L-band SAR, through the generation of semi-continental, 100 m resolution, image mosaics. The GRFM project relies on extensive collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC) and the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) for data acquisition, processing, validation and product generation. A science programme is underway in parallel with product generation. This involves the agencies mentioned above, as well as a large number of international organizations, universities and individuals to perform field activities and data analysis at different levels. The GRFM project was initiated in 1995 and, through a dedicated data acquisition policy by NASDA, data acquisitions could be completed within a 1.5-year period, resulting in a spatially and temporally homogeneous coverage to encompass the entire Amazon Basin from the Atlantic to the Pacific; Central America up to the Yucatan Peninsular in Mexico; equatorial Africa from Madagascar and Kenya in the east to Sierra Leone in the west; and south-east Asia, including Papua New Guinea and northern Australia. Over the Amazon and Congo river basins, the project aimed to provide complete cover at two different seasons, featuring the basins at high and low water. In total, the GRFM acquisitions comprise some 13000 SAR scenes, which are currently in the course of being processed and compiled into image mosaics. In March 1999, SAR mosaics over the Amazon Basin (one out of two seasonal coverages) and equatorial Africa (both seasonal coverages) were completed; the data are available on CD-ROM and, at a coarser resolution, via the Internet. Coverage of the second-season Amazon and Central America will be completed during 1999, with the south-east Asian data sets following thereafter. All data are being provided free of charge to the international science community for research and educational purposes.