Tropical rainforests trap immense amounts of carbon, so protecting them helps the climate. Conservation is also important to the Indigenous people who live in the Amazon.
“These communities really depend on their forests for everything – for their livelihoods, for their food, for their medicines, for their spirituality, everything,” says Suzanne Pelletier of the Rainforest Foundation U.S.
She says these communities have long managed their forests sustainably. But it’s become increasingly difficult for them to prevent illegal deforestation.
So the Rainforest Foundation is helping Indigenous communities learn how to use high-tech tools to monitor their forests.
By analyzing free satellite data, they can identify problems faster and more safely than they would on foot. Then they can investigate further using drones.
“It’s enabled them to collect evidence of illegal deforestation in places where it’s dangerous for them to confront someone who may be doing that illegal activity,” Pelletier says.
And having geo-located, time-stamped evidence helps community authorities and law enforcement take action.
“So it’s a real integration of this new technology with traditional governance systems that we’re finding is really decreasing deforestation,” Pelletier says.
Learn more by Yale Climate Connections here.