Do you work at an organisation that focuses on rainforest issues, land rights and indigenous rights? Ever wondered how technology could help you advocate more effectively?
We’ve been working with The Engine Room to help you and other organisations get the information you need.
We asked activists in the Amazon region, central Africa and south-east Asia how they used technology and data. They told us that knowing where to start is often the hardest part. So, we created a primer: a guide that shows how rainforest-focused projects are using technology, and gives the information to decide if it’s right for you.
The primer shows ways in which technology could help your work, highlights some of the tools that are available and ways that they have been used. Then, it gives practical information to help you decide what you need. It has been structured so that you don’t need to read the whole thing, but can explore sections that are relevant for you. It also points you towards other places where you can find more information in your region or in different languages.
Sound good? Read on!
We also identified some trends in how technology is being used to support rainforest-related projects:
Sharing information is getting easier: Internet access and mobile phone networks are spreading into previously isolated areas, and it’s now possible to collaborate with organisations from other countries (like the Amazon-focused network RAISG).
Tools are being developed specifically for rainforest organisations’ needs: A wide range of tools – many designed for use in rainforest environments – can now make it easier to campaign, monitor issues and share information within your organisation.
It’s simpler to find and use relevant data: Data on topics like land usage, forest cover and natural resources used to be hard to find, expensive and difficult to use. Now, this is starting to change - and it can be combined with on-the-ground information collected by civil society organisations, too.
Technology is cheaper and more powerful: More and more organisations can now think about accessing tools like smartphones and data visualisation software that were previously out of reach.
But some things haven’t changed:
Introducing any new tool takes time, money and effort. Technology is never a magic bullet and rarely a quick fix. No tool can replace the need for strong relationships with communities, based on trust and knowledge of local context.
Although technology can help organisations protect forests or people’s livelihoods, it also helps those with the opposite objectives, like governments seeking to suppress data or companies behaving illegally.