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Focus on Latin America

October 2011

Monitoring the World's Rain Forests from Space

PhotoSatellite images of the Amazon

The destruction of the Amazon rain forest peaked in 2004 when 26,000 square kilometers of virgin trees were felled. By last year the devastation had been reduced to 6,000 square kilometers.

The Japanese satellite ALOS Daichi has helped Brazilian federal authorities reduce the destruction by beaming images back to earth of the threatened regions even during the rainy season when heavy clouds blanket the forests.

According to Claudio Almeida of Brazil's National Institute for Space Research such monitoring, which is part of a three-year JICA-sponsored project, can also help to track climate change, agricultural production, the spread of disease and even infrastructure development such as new roads.

A related four-year program which runs through 2014 is now helping to transfer this rain forest monitoring expertise to other countries facing similar problems.

Two JICA technicians are part of a team including personnel from the Space Research Institute and the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Resources (IBAMA) based in the Amazon city of Belem which is holding a series of training seminars for officials from other Latin American countries, Africa and South East Asia.


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