For years, Rainforest Foundation US (RFUS) has helped indigenous peoples in Peru protect their rainforest against deforestation by equipping them with smartphones and training them in a satellite-based territorial monitoring system that alerts them when their land is being destroyed.
The work our indigenous partners do is heroic. Their territory is vast, and the local police force is small. The invaders in their forests are multitudinous, and have shown a historic propensity for violence against indigenous people when challenged. So who are these indigenous heroes and heroines at the front lines of rainforest protection?
That’s what a recent Forbes profile of Kichwa woman Betty Rubio Padilla explores. Padilla is a community monitor: the official job title for the forest guardians RFUS supports against the gold miners, illegal loggers, and narco-agriculturalists deforesting their land.
“There’s the perception that indigenous people are blocking development or progress. But it’s absolutely the opposite of that,” Padilla tells Forbes. “We… want to take care of the environment because the natural world is all we have.”
Results from our soon-to-be-published randomized controlled trial on community forest monitoring will show how effective Padilla’s work has been.