Activists Use GPS Systems to Track Illegal Logging Operations in Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest

Activists Use GPS Systems to Track Illegal Logging Operations in Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest

greenpeace
The Amazon rainforest is the largest rainforest on earth. It covers 5% of the world’s surface area and reaches into nine South American countries. Deforestation normally starts with logging. Loggers build roads deep into the rainforest to extract high-value hardwood trees.

GREENPEACE Activists in Brazil spent two months placing GPS trackers on illegal loggers in the Amazon.

GREENPEACE activists lived amongst the loggers near Santarém, monitoring their activity at the center of the logging industry in the Amazon. Timber from sawmills there is exported all over the world.

Illegal logging can be hard to come to grips with. Logging happens deep in the forest, far from the eyes of the rest of the world. But all that is changing. Covert GPS tracking technology and satellite images means activists can find out what loggers are really up to – and tell the world about it.

During the day, logging trucks drove deep into the public forest – land owned by the government, where no permission to log has been granted. Activists photographed them parked in a clearing, surrounded by logs.

As darkness fell, the trucks drove back to sawmills in Santarém.

They carry timber on the roads only at night to evade the police. Now, there may be a reasonable explanation for why loggers are shuttling back and forth between illegal logging camps and sawmills – and doing it at night. So we checked government records to see where these sawmills claimed the timber came from. Then activists used satellite analysis to check those estates and find out how much logging was taking place.

 

Click here to view the interactive map at amazoncrisis.org

“Illegal logging can be hard to tackle. Logging happens deep in the forest, far from the eyes of the world,” reads a blog on the mission by Greenpeace. “But all that is changing. Covert GPS tracking technology and satellite surveillance means we can find out what loggers are really up to — and tell the world about it.”

Although this story starts in Brazil, it often finishes up in Europe, China or the USA. Companies all over the world are buying timber from these sawmills. Yet European and American laws ban the trade in illegal timber.

“The GPS trackers showed logging trucks making regular trips between illegal logging camps and sawmills owned by Rainbow Trading and Odani,” reads the report. The two companies then regularly export the Amazonian timber all over the world, including Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Guadalupe, Italy, Japan, Spain and the United States.

As technology and satellite improve and become more available, illegal loggers will be increasing exposed. So will their customers.

Companies trading in timber from the Amazon are taking a massive risk. Some may well be breaking the law.

Until the Brazilian government brings the logging sector in the Amazon under control, buyers need to take responsibility for the wood they’re buying, making sure it’s been harvested legally and sustainably, or stop buying from high-risk regions like the Amazon.

 Read our report in the illegal logging trade in the Amazon

Source: GREENPEACE Brazil

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