Amazon Tribes are Using Drones to Combat Illegal Deforestation

(Marizilda Cruppe / WWF-UK)

As the global climate crisis continues to worsen, many are left wondering how to fight back against the alarming changes happening. In the Amazon rainforest, two hundred thousand acres of natural land are being demolished every day. This land destruction is used for economic gain, although disastrous to the fragile ecosystem. According to Vox, “Between 15 and 17 percent of the Amazon rainforest has been lost, and if the amount of cleared forest land reaches 25 percent, there won’t be enough trees cycling moisture through the rainforest. That will cause the rainforest to dry out and degrade into a savanna.” This destruction seems inevitable, and perhaps too overwhelming to manage or combat. The crisis in the Amazon, as well as the larger global climate crisis, seems like a battle that has already been lost. As we see this massive demolition of natural resources, it is almost unfathomable for us to know where to begin to fight back. However, this is not the case for the Uru-eu-wau-wau tribe of indigenous people in Rondonia, Brazil. When their home and very existence seemed doomed to the mass-takeover of deforestation, they decided to fight back.

Awapy Uru-eu-wau-wau, a chief of the Uru-eu-wau-wau tribe, went to a drone-operating course run by WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and a local Brazilian NGO, along with representatives from six other indigenous communities. There, Awapy and others learned how to operate drones. These drones were made specifically for tracking illegal logging activity from above. Since this course, the tribe has been combatting deforestation much faster and more efficiently than ever before. They have been able to track and monitor illegal activity in their seven thousand square mile region from the sky, bypassing the usually grueling and slow process of trying to keep up with illegal deforestation and land grabbers. Although the tribe members face death threats from these illegal loggers, and each drone costs up to around two thousand dollars each, the tribe members feel the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. In the first month, four hundred ninety-four acres of deforested land was identified. Awapy, the chief, told CNN, “My hope is that while I am alive, I want to see the jungle standing, the jungle intact. That is my hope.”

To these indigenous peoples, the Amazon means everything to them. It is what fuels their survival, and their sole goal is to protect their beautiful and sacred land. Awapy stated, “Nature is everything to us; it is our life, our lungs, our hearts. We don’t want to see the jungle chopped down. If you chop it all down, it will definitely be hotter, and there won’t be a river, or hunting, or pure air for us.” The people of the Uru-eu-wau-wau tribe are stepping up to deforestation and taking their future into their own hands.

 

Sources

Pfeifer, Hazel. “Amazon tribes are using drones to track deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest.” CNN World. Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

Duong, Tiffany. “Indigenous Tribes Are Using Drones to Protect the Amazon.” EcoWatch. Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

Irfan, Umair. Vox. “Brazil’s Amazon rainforest destruction is at its highest rate in more than a decade.” Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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