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Tiny technology labs deep in the heart of the world's most remote rainforests are making predictions for the outcome of deforestation, wildfires and climate change for 2024

UK / AGILITYPR.NEWS / February 08, 2024 / Every Rainforest Laboratory is run by Indigenous people who live in the community where the lab is situated. Known as forest monitors, each person is trained up by charity Cool Earth to understand and use the technology that provides vital early warning systems such as alerts for wildfires or illegal logging. 

The labs, hooked up to satellite data, also enable forest monitors and the team at Cool Earth to understand the outlook for rainforests in 2024, a year set to continue to feel the impact of El Niño with extremely warm temperatures and drought conditions all across the tropics. Scientists believe this year will pass the 1.5C that humanity needs to limit it to.

In the Junín province of the Amazon in central Peru, Cool Earth is expecting the wildfire season to start in February - the earliest ever, continuing the trend of rapidly worsening wildfires in the last decade caused by shifting seasons and droughts.

In the Awajún community located in the Amazon of northern Peru, fortunately the climate picture is not as bleak in terms of climate, but they face different issues. 

Luis Goicochea - Rainforest Labs Technician, based in Awajún explains, “One of the main threats to the forest this year is the logging of commercially valuable tree species, in response to which we will begin a forest inventory to evaluate the current situation of the forest, and have a baseline for our monitoring of the health of the forest.”

“Another big threat that we observe is the pollution of the Marañón River, which is the community’s main source of fish and transportation and one of the main sources of the Amazon River.”

The other side of the world in Papua New Guinea, the challenges are different but the outlook is just as devastating. 

Due to El Niño, marine heatwaves are impacting many of the island nations, and the start of the year will see below normal rainfall across southern Papua New Guinea, where Cool Earth supports communities in Milne Bay Province. In the coastal village of Gadaisu, residents are having to rebuild properties further inland to account for an increasingly receding beach.

On top of an increasingly hostile climate, logging is on the rise all across Papua New Guinea and this threat is ever present in the communities that we support. 

Regina Kewa - Programme Manager, Milne Bay Province in Papua New Guinea explains: 

“Logging is a significant threat to our partnership communities. We manage this threat through the positive relationships that Cool Earth has with the communities (through Cash Giving and Community Led Projects), and through engagement activities - like awareness in communities and schools, biodiversity training and Rainforest lab project and others.”

Technology, such as these vital rainforest labs, can be a leading force in the fight against deforestation. Logging roads in Papua New Guinea can be identified in real time using Planet’s high resolution satellites, a fleet that has grown to over 200 in 2023. More data will continue to be released which will enhance Cool Earth’s understanding of the forest, for example, new carbon data from the EU’s GEDI mission.

But without action on the forest floor technology is useless. Cool Earth’s Rainforest Labs programme has been running successfully in Peru since 2022, and in 2024 we will begin supporting our partners in Papua New Guinea to leverage the opportunities provided by access to this data.

What’s abundantly clear is that no matter which community or rainforest area you look at, the challenges for the people who live there are increasing but their resilience remains. Combined with their exceptional knowledge of how to live at one with the rainforest and how to protect it for future generations, there is hope. 

Find out more about the outlook for rainforests in 2024, broken down by region, here.

High-resolution images: https://we.tl/t-yW5Ci5qDYy

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3AWrRVHJM8&t=3s

More details about rainforest labs: https://www.coolearth.org/news/rainforest-labs-the-lowdown/

Editors notes

  • Cool Earth partners with Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities who live in the rainforest and who have historically been the best at shaping and stewarding these ecosystems. 


  • Protecting carbon-rich forests in the three largest expanses of rainforests in the world is the most scalable and cost-effective solution against the climate crisis. 


  • Supporting the rights and livelihoods of people who live in and rely on the rainforest is the most ethical and impactful conservation practice and our commitment to climate justice. 


  • Founded in 2007, Cool Earth pioneered an unconditional cash transfer model to support Indigenous peoples and local communities against threats to their lands and rights. 


  • Supported by a board of trustees led by Dr Tony Juniper CBE and including people such as Gillian Burke, as well as ambassadors such as Jasmine Hemsley, Cool Earth is committed to developing rights-based approaches as essential solutions to the climate crisis.