Custom-designed drones are hunting illegal loggers in the Amazon rainforest

Thursday, 11 June, 2015

Technology has brought the deforestation of the Amazon into a whole new light: the Amazon Basin Conservation Association in Peru is catching deforestation as it happens by using $5000 dollar wing drones, custom designed by a graduate student from Wake Forest University, USA. Landsat satellites show the sheer scale of the devastation, and now the drones show deforestation and mining as they happen, providing a greater shot at stopping loggers in their tracks. 

For places such as the Los Amigos conservation area, where only five rangers monitor 145,000 hectares, the drones are an effective addition. They enable the team to identify illegal gold mining and logging activities, which previously were impossible to track fast enough. Each drone carries a Canon camera, and can fly up to 10 miles to a specific GPS location. They fly below the cloud cover to provide clear, instantaneous images of the rainforest.

Speaking to The Drone Info, Messigner and ACA board member Miles Silman explained: “We have been working with the drones in Peru for about a year and since then we have identified a number of illegal mine sites.” Once an illegal mine is identified, they are able to monitor its spread and ensure that it does not cross over into protected areas.

The drones are also being used to track the progress of reforestation efforts and measure the carbon content of forests for carbon conservation.


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