Our planet’s rainforests are under threat from human-driven deforestation to access land for farming, grazing of livestock, mining, or to make palm oil for products like shampoo.
This deforestation not only affects the people and animals living in the areas where the trees are cut down, but also the global environment as it goes on to affect water supplies and climate change due to how it affects the air we breathe.
However, now the traditional Amazon tribes are joining forces with the magic of tech by using drones to detect illegal deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest.
You may or may not be familiar with a drone, though simply they are an unmanned aerial vehicle that can be controlled by a human operator and capture images from above.
Now, thanks to Indigenous rights’ groups teaming up with WWF International [World Wildlife Fund], they are beginning to train Andean people in the Amazon rainforest to use drones so that they can compile evidence for illegal logging activities.
Illegal logging – the harvesting of wood that is in violation of national regulations – is one of the major causes for the devastating wildfires that sweep the area and rip down the trees as cattle ranchers burn the forest to make way for pastureland.
This is believed to be responsible for an astonishing 80% of deforestation.
The drones will help tribes capture high-resolution images, video, and GPS coordinates of logging sites as well as prime habitats where vulnerable species are in danger such as the harpy eagle – a bird that’s sacred to the Uru Eu Wau Wau tribe in Brazil.
Along with the Uru Eu Wau Wau community, a further four tribes will become part of the initiative that has been made possible with the help of the Kaninde Ethno-Environmental Defense Association; an organisation that fights for the rights of people in the rainforest.
Speaking about the project, senior conservation analyst for WWF-Brazil, Felipe Spina Avino, said the drones allow tribes to use ancestral knowledge alongside technology.
Felipe told CNN: “They can compile a case with a lot of evidence that they can send to the authorities which then have much greater pressure and much greater resource to act upon the illegal activities that are going on.”
Already, the drones have discovered a 1.4-acre area of clear-cut land with grass seed, suggesting illegal activity as the cleared forest looks set to be used for cattle pasturing.