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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Betty‌ ‌‌Rubio‌ ‌Padilla uses her cell phone to monitor the Amazon Rainforest for deforestation.
In The News

Profile in Forbes Gives a Face to the Amazon’s Front Line

An article in Forbes describes the work of Betty Rubio Padilla, president of the Federation of Communities of the Middle Napo and Curaray and Arabela River Basins, to stop deforestation in her territory. RFUS trained Betty’s community to use satellite technology and deforestation alerts in order to quickly detect and respond to illegal incursions.


Video: Reforestation Alert

Reforestation Alert follows the story of a community in the Peruvian Amazon that, having once successfully eliminated illegal deforestation on their territories, tackles what comes next: reforestation.

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Adam crafts original content and repurposes existing material and information in a way that communicates the organization’s engagement priorities to various audiences. Prior to working at RFUS, he wrote for several outlets, including: The Wall Street Journal, The Budapest Times, and A&E, amongst others. He’s also a published fiction writer and has written and staged several plays in New York City. Adam holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers University—Camden, and is a native English speaker who is bilingual in Hungarian and fluent in Spanish.