Thursday, 16 Oct, 2008 Environment
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High Technology Protects Amazon

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Brazilian police has performed a brilliant operation on capture a drug dealer. A high-tech spy plane flying thousands of feet above the clouds informed them about every movement of the pilot whose drug-smuggling plane had landed in the Amazon rain forest. Thanks to new technologies the police managed to arrest the pilot and to confiscate 300kg of cocaine. After this bust police intend to confine the whole international drug gang.

In order to preserve the Amazon Brazil focused on technological progress in its struggle against clandestine activities. Marcelo de Carvalho Lopes, head of the Amazon Protection System, or Sipam, said in an interview that intelligence support was needed to keep the whole region under control.

Sipam started its work in 2003 at a cost of $1.4 billion. It was equipped to analyze satellite images and aerial photography. This information helps authorities to combat deforestation, forest fires as well as drug trafficking. Hundreds of climate detectors and broadband Internet connections are now placed over the whole territory of the Amazon which is larger than the European Union.

Images taken with infrared cameras from Air Force planes are used as evidence against lawbreakers, such as illegal loggers. According to the environment ministry, only 8 percent of all penalties for deforestation are collected. The supersensitive images provide information about places intended for logging which gives the possibility to avert forest destruction. According to Wougran Soares Galvao, Sipam Operations Director, such images present a potential breakthrough.

As analysts predict, 86 percent of the Amazon will have been scanned by the end of this year. High technologies should help Brazil to raise legislation and conservation works to a higher level.

Ricardo Augusto Silverio dos Santos of Brazil's secret service agency said that the new law passed in 2004 that allowed the air force to bring down alleged planes promoted the decrease of drug trafficking by air.

Now Brazil has to solve a new problem as drug gangs smuggling cocaine started coming from Columbia by boat instead of plane. In response to these actions, Sipam sets up new surveillance scopes along central waterways and plans drug-related operations.

Although deforestation decreases, vast areas are still cut down every year. The country needs more resources to liquidate illegal logging. Foreign countries offer Brazil considerable subsidies for this purpose. Norway pledged Brazil $1 billion grant over 7 years.

Now only Canada and Germany can have images from radars that pierce the clouds.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE49E7GU20081015?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0
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Posted by sharaeff

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