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The World Resources Institute (WRI) hosted a summit on innovative technologies for detecting and preventing illegal logging, where participants discussed some of the most useful cutting-edge applications.

However, WRI emphasized that these technologies can only be a part of the solution, since they must be adapted to local realities and are useful only if translated into action.

Below are four technologies with current and potential application to forest monitoring:

Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

UAVs are already being used in Guatemala, Peru and Guyana to monitor and enhance patrolling of the country’s protected areas, map the indigenous peoples' territory and detect illegal logging and mining activities.

On-the-ground sensors

Such security systems use visual/thermal cameras and infrared sensors to capture photos of intruders into protected areas, and immediately alert authorities.  The system is still undergoing development, but has shown success in pilot tests in Indonesia, Cameroon and Brazil.

Satellite imagery

Global Forest Watch (GFW) provides dataset that details annual tree cover change globally and is integrated with complementary data sets on forest concessions, intact forest locations, etc.  This allows anyone with an internet connection to track tree cover change in near-real time.

UrtheCast streams high-definition video of Earth from the International Space Station and plans to launch 16 satellites to provide data allowing users to detect forest degradation earlier.

Crowdsourcing applications

TIMBY is an app that allows community groups in Liberia to upload images, videos and audio of illegal deforestation activities.  Aggregated reports and analysis can then be shared publicly to hold government officials responsible for taking action against illegal loggers.

Moabi is an app that allows users in Congo to access a database of maps, including forest, protected areas, indigenous lands, and others, and to contribute and edit datasets. Similar technologies allow communities to report illegal logging on their mobile phones.

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