Seeing the wood for the trees

| 5th August 2019
Combine latest technology with local knowledge and the picture becomes clear, a comprehensive story of life on the rainforest floor.


The Asháninka have called the Amazon rainforest home for at least 5,000 years. Tradition, ceremony and storytelling are at the heart of their culture, and they proudly hold on to their customs in a changing world.

But that doesn’t make them averse to progress. During a recent field trip to the Cutivireni partnership, the Cool Earth team worked with six local community members to trial methodologies for collecting geospatial data.

They were eager to support Cool Earth’s Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) team in finding the best ways to monitor the forest. The data collected through on-the-ground observation will be used to validate data from satellite analysis. It’s called ‘ground truthing’ and is a core focus for the MEL team.

Forest monitoring

Canopy cover is a key indicator of the success of Cool Earth’s partnerships. It’s why Cool Earth has been investing in the latest satellite monitoring technology to keep tabs on the health, and level of forest cover, both in and around the partnerships.

With Cool Earth’s Regional Coordinator, Aurora Lume, running through the different data collection devices, the team and community split into three groups over two days to collect data.

Using traditional GPS field devices, standard GPS-enabled Android smartphones and a bespoke form to collect information from each point, the team verified locations of primary forest, deforestation, degradation, and recorded valuable images. But it’s not just about data. 

These activities continue to be invaluable in engaging members of the community with every aspect of monitoring their forest.

It’s during exercises like this that the most interesting information comes out in conversation; territory boundaries, invasions, village names, diseases, what the communities hunt and what medicinal plants continue to be used.

This is how Cool Earth is truly able to understand the threats to people’s forest and the possible solutions to deforestation. Combine latest technology with local knowledge and the picture becomes clear; a comprehensive story of life on the rainforest floor.

Jaime Peña, a biodiversity officer in Peru, said: "We, as Asháninka, need to find ways to mitigate pressure on the rainforest. Involving the community in data collection can be part of the solution.

"Together we can learn more about what’s happening in our territory and take action to protect our natural world based on the geospatial data we collect."

This Article

This article is based on a press release from Cool Earth

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