The Amazon is home to nearly a third of all tropical forests remaining on earth and a vast amount of the world’s biodiversity. According to WWF, the rainforest helps stabilize the climate, storing roughly 76 billion tonnes of carbon and releasing 20 billion tonnes of water into the atmosphere every day.
Since 2019, as part of its conservation and indigenous rights strategy, WWF-Brasil has been supporting indigenous organizations, local communities, protected area staff and environmental police with drone technology and training to help them to monitor and protect the Amazon. DroneDeploy software and services have proved an invaluable tool in this critical protection work.
So far, over 35 drone monitoring kits have been donated to front-line environmental defender groups across five Amazon states. The technology has multiplied the capacity of those groups to effectively monitor their territories, as well as to gather high-resolution maps, photos and coordinates to help with further legal action or to plan immediate responses in case of emergencies such as wildfires.
“DroneDeploy has already proved an incredibly useful tool for the indigenous ranger community,” says Felipe Spina, WWF-Brazil Conservation technology specialist.
“The application is easy to use, which allows for groups to be trained on it quickly. The tool’s ability to create lasting documentation and allow for remote collaboration is also important to the rangers' success. The software tools aid in monitoring their territory and defend it from intruders more effectively”.
The use of remote capture tools can be life-saving technology for environmental defenders. According to the Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) in 2020, there were 202 murders of leaders who worked in the defense of the territory, environment and the rights of indigenous peoples in countries like Colombia, Brazil, Peru and Bolivia.
The use of technology such as drones, mobile phones application and remote communication systems can help to reduce the risk faced by front-line environmental defenders. Felipe notes, “It, for instance, can enable them to monitor and document the deforestation from a safe distance, avoiding direct confrontation with illegal loggers, thus increasing their safety, and ability to defend the Amazon”.
“We’re thrilled to be able to partner with WWF-Brasil on this critical initiative,” says Rebecca Lehman, Social Impact Program Manager at DroneDeploy. "Environmental conservation has long been an important cause to the company, whose founders were inspired to start DroneDeploy to combat rhino poaching in South Africa. The company has long had a goal of using automation to make all work safer, more efficient and more effective."
Through the partnership, DroneDeploy will donate over $300,000 in software over a three-year period to provide additional protection and resources to communities working at the front lines of deforestation and climate change.
Recently, WWF launched the WWF Conservation Technology Series issue #5: DRONES FOR CONSERVATION. Six co-authors from the University of Exeter Drone Lab, Fauna and Flora International, WWF-Germany and WWF-Brazil have collaborated to deliver a detailed handbook, packed with useful advice and examples from study cases all over the globe, covering the benefits, opportunities, and constraints of drone technology for Conservation. The guide is available for free download in English and Portuguese. Learn more about the work of WWF-Brasil.