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Indigenous communities get tech and training on vital early warning systems – Positive News

Indigenous people are being mustered as citizen scientists in some of the world’s most remote rainforests to help predict the effects of the climate crisis and deforestation

Satellite-aided, Indigenous-led climate action is taking place in some of the most remote rainforests in the world, to help predict the impact of the changing climate and of deforestation. Communities are being trained up as citizen scientists to provide valuable data that will, it is hoped, help to give them control over their lives, their land and the future of their rainforests.

The rainforest laboratories that have been set up by the charity Cool Earth also serve as early warning systems sounding alerts on challenges including wildfires and illegal logging. Each one is run by ‘forest monitors’ trained by Cool Earth to use the tech, which draws on data beamed down to Earth by imaging outfit Planet and its constellation of 200 satellites.  

In Peru’s Junín Province, where the project – Rainforest Labs – has been in situ for two years, monitors predict the trend of rapidly worsening wildfires will continue in 2024.  

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In response, Cool Earth is working alongside the Indigenous federation CARE (Central Ashaninka of the Rio Ene) to train communities in fire detection, management and monitoring. Further north in Amazonas, Indigenous stewards are building a baseline forest inventory to measure the effects of commercial logging.  

The programme expanded in 2023 to Papua New Guinea, where it is seen as a leading force in combatting the growing threat of deforestation by helping identify illegal logging roads in real time.  

Regina Kewa, programme manager for Milne Bay Province in Papua New Guinea, said that engagement activities – including raising awareness in communities and schools – alongside biodiversity training and the Rainforest Lab project were helping to manage the threat.  

Biodiversity officer Nicky Roma, from the Ashaninka village of Oviri in Peru, collects image and location data to cross-reference with satellite monitoring. Image: Cool Earth

This year Cool Earth plans further support for partners on the ground to make the most of “opportunities provided by the data” and to help turn them into action.  

“What’s abundantly clear is that no matter which community or rainforest area you look at, the challenges for the people who live there are increasing but their resilience remains,” said Matt Proctor, forest impacts lead at the charity.  

“Combined with their exceptional knowledge of how to live at one with the rainforest and how to protect it for future generations, there is hope,” he added.

Main image: Indigenous people in the Ashaninka village of Oviri in Peru get trained up. Credit: Cool Earth

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