The world’s two largest rainforests, the Congo Basin and the Amazon, are under threat from illegal extraction activities. Unfortunately, both national and local authorities have long lacked the means and mechanisms to deal with these illegalities which destroy ecosystems and undermine both forest and indigenous peoples’ livelihoods.
Enter the Rainforest Foundation UK, now actively working with both national and local authorities with its ForestLink real-time monitoring system. Rather than relying on external or third-party observers, ForestLink relies on monitors living in the rainforest to act as watchdogs, alerting the Rainforest Foundation of suspected illegal activities via a bespoke smartphone app.
When GPRS isn’t available, the ForestLink system uses RockBLOCK and weatherproofed RockBLOCK+ devices to exchange data via the Iridium network. After alerts are sent to a secure database, they are analyzed by NGOs and governments. Pending further details from community observers that help verify alerts, the Rainforest Foundation notifies the appropriate authorities.
The ForestLink system is currently used to address a wide range of threats that include illegal logging and mining activities as well as oil spills. Working with local partner organizations, the Rainforest Foundation has trained over 30 communities in the DRC, Ghana, Cameroon and Peru to use the system.
So far, thousands of alerts have been sent by community monitors, resulting in legal action against extractive industries. Since its inception, the Rainforest Foundation has helped indigenous and local communities protect more than 12 million hectares of rainforest.
The Rainforest Foundation has successfully empowered local populations by giving them the ability to secure and take control of their natural resources as well as their individual and collective rights. Rock Seven is extremely proud that satcomms can play a vital role to this end.