State agency brings satellite data down to earth


The western state of Mato Grosso, where a third of the deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon typically has taken place, is reducing illegal land clearing by superimposing local property maps on satellite images to better focus enforcement action. Linked to a new licensing system for landowners who want to fell timber on their property, the hi-tech approach allows state officials to monitor cutting from afar—and mail out pre-determined fines if that cutting exceeds legal limits. As the program is being phased in, Mato Grosso’s environmental-enforcement agency—the State Environmental Foundation (Fema)—hopes to reduce field inspections, which are costly and vulnerable to bribery. The strategy, credited with cutting Mato Grosso’s deforestation rate by a third, has won praise from environmental advocates. Says... [Log in to read more]

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