Technology can be a positive and a negative when it comes to the natural world
Big brother gone green: using technology to tackle the eco-crisis
Hugh Knowles and Martin Wright
6th April, 2012
The revolution in remote monitoring should help solve environmental problems, but might it also increase our distance from the natural world?
Deep in the rainforests of eastern Cameroon, someone is moving swiftly through the trees. He has the practised tread of a man who knows every inch of this land – as did his ancestors before him. He’s in a race against time. He pauses by the buttressed roots of a towering tree, rummages in his pouch and pulls out what could be a vital tool for the future of his way of life: a customised GPS device, ‘forest-proofed’ in a tough rubberised plastic case. On its screen, a series of icons enable the illiterate forest dweller to record essential information such as the location and size of a valuable hardwood tree. The forest tribes have fished and hunted these lands since time began and now they’re logging them. Not logging as in chopping wood: this version of the word has precisely the opposite goal. They’re compiling a digital map of their homeland, marking trees and other landscape features. This is in theory protected land but it’s been at risk from incursion by timber companies, benefiting from confusion as to just where boundaries – and rights – lie in the remote forests.
Now the data gathered on the ground will be matched with satellite observations to provide...
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