Indigenous communities receive training and tech support on vital early warning systems

Mar 22, 2024 | News

In some of the most remote rainforests in the world, indigenous people are being recruited as citizen scientists to help predict the impacts of climate change and deforestation.


Satellite-aided Indigenous-led climate actions are taking place in some the most remote rainforests of the world to help predict the impacts of climate change and deforestation. Citizens scientists are being trained to collect valuable data to help communities take control of their lives, their lands and the futures of their rainforests.

The rainforest laboratories, which have been established by the charity Cool Earth, also serve as early-warning systems that sound alerts about challenges such as wildfires and illicit logging. Cool Earth trains ‘forest watchers’ to operate each lab, which uses data from Planet’s 200 satellites and their constellation of imaging equipment.

Monitors in Peru’s Junin Province where Rainforest Labs has been operating for two years predict that the trend of rapidly worsening fires will continue into 2024.

Cool Earth, in response, is working with the Indigenous federation CARE, (Central Ashaninka of Rio Ene), to train communities on fire detection, monitoring, and management. Indigenous stewards in Amazonas are creating a baseline forest inventor to measure the effects commercial logging.

The programme was expanded to Papua New Guinea in 2023, where it is seen by many as a key tool in combating the growing threat of forest deforestation. It helps identify illegal logging routes in real time.

Regina Kewa is the programme manager of Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea. She said that engagement activities, such as raising awareness in schools and communities, along with biodiversity training and Rainforest Lab, helped to manage the threat.

Nicky Roma is a biodiversity officer from the Ashaninka Village of Oviri, Peru. She collects images and location data for cross-referencing with satellite monitoring. Image: Cool Earth

This year Cool Earth will provide additional support to partners on the ground in order to help them make the most out of “opportunities” provided by data and to turn these into action.

Matt Proctor, forest impact lead at the charity, said: “It’s abundantly obvious that no matter what community or rainforest area you examine, the challenges facing the people there are increasing, but their resilience remains.”

“Combined with their exceptional knowledge about how to live in harmony with the rainforest, and how to protect this for future generations, we have hope,” he said.


Image: The Ashaninka people of Oviri, Peru are trained. Credit: Cool Earth

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