All Eyes on the Amazon

  • How can modern technology be used to locate and measure oil spills or gas flaring?
  • How can reliable evidence in remote and scarcely populated regions be systematically collected?
  • How can the evidence gathered be used to campaign against the impacts?

About the research

These are the questions ISS researchers Dr Lorenzo Pellegrini and Professor Murat Arsel are seeking to answer. All Eyes on the Amazon aims to make a major positive impact on the current situation in the Amazon by working in nine project locations in Ecuador, Brazil, and Peru covering a total of about 8 million hectares of forest.

In order to stop deforestation in these areas, ISS is working together with the local community to contribute to an interconnected network of forest ‘protectors’. The local and indigenous communities are central to this network but research institutions, law enforcement agencies and environmental and human rights organizations also play a vital role.

Together the network works on:

  • ‘Radical transparency’ by collecting evidence of deforestation and environmental damage,
  • ‘Full responsibility’ through evidence-based action like campaigns but also better law enforcement
  • ‘Durable solutions’ by helping to create or further improve local conditions that enable better protection of the rainforest. For example, financing of forest ranger teams.

A unique element of this project is the use of state-of-the-art-technology, such as satellites and drones by local indigenous communities to monitor and collect evidence of environmental damage. As Lorenzo Pellegrini states: ‘Drones are incredibly effective as you can capture images of an oil spill in a flooded forest and get a pretty good idea of the size of the spill’.

Building on over 10 years of research and partnerships with local organizations and communities, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Murat Arsel focus on technical capacity building for the local monitoring activities and on monitoring and evaluating the impact of anti-deforestation strategies – both in terms of concrete outcomes and through the assessment of socioeconomic and environmental institutions.

All eyes on the Amazon - indigenous monitoring of deforestation
Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Why is this research relevant?

Forests, rainforests in particular, are extremely important for the local as well as global environment. Absorbing carbon monoxide and releasing oxygen, rainforests are often referred to as the ‘lungs of the planet’.

They are also home for over 150 million indigenous people worldwide. Despite the importance of the rainforests, they are being cut down at an extremely fast pace and, as a result both of deforestation and of resources extraction, indigenous peoples are being forced from their homes.

This research is in line with Sustainable Development Goal 15 on protecting life on land to stop land degradation and loss of biodiversity. It is also related to Sustainable Development Goal 13 on climate action and mitigating climate change.

Collaborations

Lorenzo Pellegrini and Murat Arsel have a long history of carrying out action research into the dynamics of conflicts and the collaboration in the management of natural resources in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador.

Three ISS PhD researchers work closely with the researchers on the political ecology and ecological economics of deforestation.

Led by Hivos and Greenpeace, in total fifteen local organizations and eleven coalition partners, including ISS, are involved in the project

Hivos I Greenpeace I COICA | Digital Democracy | World Resources Institute | University of Maryland | INTERPOL Both ENDS | Witness | ARTICLE 19 | International Institute of Social Studies

Outputs

Funding

With funding from the Dutch Postcode Lottery, the Swedish Postcode Foundation, and the Postcode Planet Trust, All Eyes on the Amazon takes as its starting point the importance of local communities in protecting the rainforest.

Related news

Research at ISS - Environment and Climate Change

All Eyes on the Amazon - video trailer

Contact the ISS research team

Dr Lorenzo Pellegrini

Professor Murat Arsel