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Cutting Down on Deforestation

In Brazil, a tribe called the Surui has gone mobile.

Since first contact with civilized man in 1969, the Surui people decreased from 5,000 in number to a few hundred. This drastic decline happened due to various diseases, specifically chickenpox, as well as deforestation. In present time, the rampant diseases are under control; however, the deforestation continues to give the Surui trouble as illegal logging destroys much of their homeland.

Technology Tactics to Combat Deforestation

In the late 90’s, Chief Almir Narayamoga Surui decided enough was enough and began negotiating for a way to end the destruction. However, instead of demanding that the illegal logging cease, he wanted to use technology to make the rainforest too valuable to cut down. So, he attracted Google’s attention, ultimately convincing them to partner with him

What exactly was Chief Almir’s plan? He wanted to assign the rainforest carbon credits, or offsets, which are good so long as the trees remain standing.

When trees are cut down or burned, carbon is released into the atmosphere. Businesses buy carbon credits, or offsets, which is like a ticket proving that they reduced the carbon emissions by one metric ton. They do this, not just for environmental purposes, but because it provides employment opportunities and other promotional advantages.

To partner in Chief Almir’s plan, Google funded the Surui with Android smart phones to gauge the amount of carbon dioxide that could be released should the trees be cut down or burned.

Not only that, but when Google launched Earth Engine, the satellite capability empowered the Surui to monitor and record the illegal logging activity on video as well as document the data they collect from the trees. Now, anyone can go online and see the videos and devastation for themselves. These powerful images and facts are helping researchers and law enforcement determine what needs to be done in regards to the situation.

ATS Secured applauds this “out of the box” kind of thinking.

Chief Almir didn’t balk at the major issue facing his people. He saw the problem and decided to solve it in an unconventional way. Instead of arguing for stricter laws to protect the land he loved, he proposed a plan to help the world see its value. Innovative, problem solving ideas are the kind that last and make a difference, because they usually also solve a larger scale problem than just the immediate one at hand. This technology could be used to reduce deforestation on a global scale. National Geographic states that forest areas “the size of Panama” are cleared away each year. With Chief Almir’s progressive thinking, these problems can be moderated.

Ascribing value to a process or way of life and helping others see that value is a much better solution than forcing them to comply with the way we see things. It’s like taking the blindfold off a person and helping them see where they need to go, instead of simply dragging them around. Technology has helped the Surui remove the world’s blindfold when it comes to saving the Amazon rainforest; showing the value that was there all along.

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