Community-Based Monitoring and Technology Can Cut Deforestation in the Amazon

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Indigenous-led, forest monitoring interventions yield credible and “measurable reduction of deforestation” in the Peruvian Amazon, according to preliminary results from a study led by Columbia University researchers.

This unprecedented study builds on a growing body of research on the relationship between territorial rights of indigenous communities and deforestation prevention. Notably, this is the first randomized controlled trial (RCT) on community forest monitoring and governance in indigenous communities.

The announcement was made on Tuesday at the Ford Foundation by Rainforest Foundation US and its indigenous and institutional partners.*  The findings led to a vigorous discussion on the potential this type of intervention could have in reducing deforestation across Indigenous held territory in the Amazon Basin and beyond. A briefing on the findings can be accessed here. Indigenous leaders and forest monitors — the men and women on the frontline of rainforest protection — described how this integrated technological approach was providing tangible benefits to their communities.

A video broadcast of the two-hour event will be posted on our site in the coming days.

The implementation of the project was led by the Rainforest Foundation US (RFUS), The Indigenous Organization of the Eastern Peruvian Amazon (ORPIO-AIDESEP), and the World Resources Institute (WRI). The technology used by implementing communities, ranging from the border with Ecuador to the border with Colombia used Near Real Time(NRT) satellite deforestation data incorporated into smartphone geotagging applications and drones to collect data over the study period. The data was then collectively analyzed by the community and stored in the first-ever indigenous run data hub, the Center for Information and Territorial Planning (CIPTO-ORPIO). Implementation and measurement will continue for at least one more year.

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Edico Cuelo in his shop in Puerto Alegre, Peru
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Rainforest Foundation US has begun an unprecedented program of direct finance forest defense, wherein indigenous communities are financially rewarded for successfully protecting their territories against deforestation. In Puerto Alegre, on the Amazon River in Northern Peru, community members speak about the tremendous vulnerabilities confronting them.

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Didier Devers
Chief of Party – USAID Guatemala
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Didier has been coordinating the USAID-funded B’atz project since joining Rainforest Foundation US in April 2022. He holds a Master’s in Applied Anthropology and a Bachelor’s in Geography. Before joining the organization, Didier worked for 12 years in Central and South America on issues of transparency, legality, governance, and managing stakeholders’ processes in the environmental sector. Prior to that he worked on similar issues in Central Africa. He speaks French, Spanish, and English, and is based in Guatemala.