Satellites Catch Loggers Red-Handed

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Oftentimes it seems like our Big Brother-like society — with its thousands of satellites swerving overhead, its hundreds of cameras monitoring our actions and its questionable privacy policies on social networking websites — is way too big. But then, every once in a while, the multi-eyed technological overseer spies a bit of treachery, and we all breathe a sigh of relief that it exists.

Take for instance, the case of the Ayoreo of Paraguay, one of the last groups of indigenous people that live, for the most part, uncontacted by modern people. For the better part of the last decade, loggers and ranchers have been devastating the natural forest in northern Paraguay. According to The Guardian “nearly 10 percent of the virgin, dry forest in northern Paraguay has been cleared.” To make matters worse, this massive deforestation has been happening in the neighborhood of the Ayoreo tribes without their approval or knowledge.

After this tragedy was revealed, a logging moratorium was placed on the land where the Ayoreo live but satellite images from last December obtained by tribal advocacy groups, including Survival International, clearly show that the deforestation is still occurring illegally. Since there does not seem to be much enforcement of the logging regulations on the ground, activists have taken to observing the process through satellite images.

Other efforts using satellite imagery have revealed illegal logging in Madgascar, Brazil, Indonesia ( PDF) and the Congo in Africa, among other places.

The images may help to shine a spotlight on the specific instances of illegal activity, but according to Wired Science, there is currently no systematic tracking of the deforestation within the area in question and the Paraguayan forests continue to be destroyed. The hope is that as satellite-equipped activists continue to call out instances of illegal logging, there will be mounting pressure to fine the companies that are carrying out the illegal deforestation.

Credit: Survival International

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