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New technology developed to protect the Amazon

A global coalition has been launched to provide urgently needed protection for the Amazon. The six-month acceleration program is designed to develop, test and advance new solutions to safeguard the people and ecosystems of the Amazon region. 

The program, known as the Amazon CoLab, is the product of a partnership between Conservation X Labs, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Microsoft and Esri.

“We can improve our innovation while implementing it in the field. Together with the AmazonCoLab’s mentoring and networking possibilities, this accelerates the market readiness of our innovation tremendously and supports outreach to potential clients,” said Leon Riedel of ASMSpotter.

The inaugural cohort for the lab is made up of six teams around the world. The teams were recognized in a competition – The Artisanal Mining Grand Challenge – which was carried out from 2019 to 2020. Working with partners from Peru and Guyana, the teams are testing their solutions from November 2021 to April 2022. Each team presented a solution to part of the problem of artisanal gold mining and its threat to the Amazon ecosystem as well as human health.    

“The Amazon CoLab marks the beginning of a new model for conserving the Amazon,” said Dr. Alex Dehgan, CEO & Co-Founder of Conservation X Labs. “We’re excited to bring together a talented inaugural cohort, knowledgeable local partners working on the ground, and experts in technology and innovation to collaborate together in an effort to preserve the future of the Amazon.”

The different solutions offered up by teams to be tested are:

ASMSPOTTER, a satellite and AI based tool that automatically detects artisanal gold mining deforestation, to more quickly alert authorities.

CLEANGOLD, an affordable, safe method of capturing gold particles without the traditional use of dangerous mercury. 

MERCURY CAPTURE SYSTEM allows for the capture of mercury vapors released by the amalgam burning process, used during gold processing. 

PICOYUNE a portable mercury sensor that allows for the quick identification of contaminated areas.

PROJECT INAMBARI is a satellite imagery program that finds deforestation in critical habitat areas, allowing the detection of illegal mining.

QUIPU is a mobile program that allows the monitoring of mercury as well as deforestation.

The Amazon CoLab provides support for the development and implementation of these and other projects for the protection of the Amazon and its people.  

By Zach Fitzner, Staff Writer

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