Brazil is hoping a partnership with a company known for launching satellites will allow it to monitor the country’s Amazon rainforest with increasingly sophisticated drones.
Among them, the company’s Falcon Heavy rocket, which would allow the country to see the forest from space.
“This is the best atmosphere in the world,” said Leopoldo Cambra, head of public management and space technology at Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul University. “It is necessary to know where the degradation is taking place.”
Cambra led an expedition in the Amazon on Tuesday to measure the amount of rainwater gathered by canopy plants and seek out changes in vegetation. The country needs to modernize its forest monitoring techniques to improve the frequency and reliability of observations and related gauges, he said.
The country now has scientists who are not certified government scientists and they are classified by Brazil as private research projects. Some lack funds, some are allocated by individual states, and none of them are tied to the central government’s 12,000-strong scientific service, known as Ibama.
Cambra said the country has stopped having a nonconformist government forest scientist, but hopes to eventually have 100 designated scientists certified from different regions of the country.
Last year, the Brazilian Air Force began a drone maintenance project with the company, South Florida Aviation.
“As we continue improving the equipment used, we believe that they can provide a great opportunity to study and monitor the Amazon from space,” said Gen. Jorge A. Eduardo Cardozo, director of space operations.
An IFR drone was used in December to monitor wildfires that burned 135 square miles in the state of Maranhão. Some national forest and swathes of Amazon were under fire that month, and the governor’s office requested a report about how to best monitor and reduce the effects of tropical forest fires.
Some scientists said improving the country’s monitoring capabilities is more important in general than it is now.
“One of the problems is there is no major infrastructure for monitoring. There are that many states and municipal jurisdictions to monitor, and they do not have this existing technology,” Carlos D. Kubas, the director of the Center for Environment and Rural Development, told the press on Tuesday.
“So even though there are advances in technology that support improved monitoring, the infrastructure to control and use that technology … is problematic.”
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