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article imageOp-Ed: Tribe in Guyana makes drone to monitor illegal logging, mining

By Paul Wallis     Apr 18, 2016 in Environment
Georgetown - Imagine living in a rainforest, with the usual collection of corporate vandals, lunatics and morons destroying it around you. What do you do? Obviously, you get on YouTube, and learn how to build a drone to keep an eye on things.
The Wachipan community, nine groups in southern Guyana, have obviously had enough of their illegal freeloaders. The drone, made, if you please, of bowstrings, a lollipop stick, and other consumables, has been trying to document their lands and protect their culture with GPS and smart phones, in the middle of what is normally a beautiful place.
illegal logging in Guyana isn’t exactly popular. As a matter of fact, a lot of information has been put together on the subject, and the pattern of regional and cultural abuse is exactly what you’d expect — appalling.
The usual suspects, international loggers, are merrily deforesting away. Miners are ripping up the forest floor with what could politely be described as astonishing lack of basic skills in terms of soil structures, drainage, and everything else. Of course, all this stuff, timber and minerals, has to be carted away, so transport is also helping to destroy whatever environment it encounters.
The Wachipan people, to their eternal credit, have taken matters in to their own hands, both protecting their land and keeping track of the damage. It’s interesting to note that these “primitive tribes” invariably seem to have a far more efficient, practical approach to land management than the fabulous modern culture we all admire so much for being able to wear ties all by itself. They also seem to have a much more practical approach to adapting technology to actual needs.
The bottom line with illegal logging is that the chemistry and biology alone of the world’s rainforests is far more valuable than a few sticks of furniture or cookie cutter jewelry will ever be. Preservation, in this case, is also sanity. The intellectual property on some compounds found in rain forests could buy IKEA in pharmaceuticals alone. Approximately 25 percent of modern pharmaceuticals are derived from rain forest compounds. That’s a big slice of hundreds of billions, per year.
It is almost impossible to describe the sheer stupidity and waste of rainforest destruction in economic terms. For those who don’t know — Aspirin was originally synthesized from vinegar and willow bark. Now apply that logic to areas the size of whole countries with an estimated 99 percent of undiscovered compounds.
The Wachipan people, hopefully, will get the rights other native peoples have, and act as caretakers, as they obviously can. The rest of the world can just hope that one day the destructive morons save up enough money to buy a few working brain cells. It might help.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about wachipan, Guyana, Illegal logging, pharmaceuticals derived from rain forests, illegal mining in rainforests
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