What’s Going on in the Amazon?

An interactive map, launched at Rio+20, seeks to help people keep up-to-date on the state of the Amazon basin. The map at the center of InfoAmazonia.org combines the descriptive power of cartography with timely news and reports about environmental threats to the region.

The map offers three layers–deforestation, fires, and extractive industries– to add critical context to  stories that hover directly above. News can be filtered by the main contributor sources involved in InfoAmazonia and by news submitted by readers. By taking this collaborative approach, the creators of InfoAmazonia seek to build a community of storytellers and data collectors to keep the map as current as possible.

“Maps have been a means to interpret reality for many centuries. With InfoAmazonia.org we use this old instrument in a digital age to visualize and communicate information in a better, innovative way,” explains Gustavo Faleiros, editor of the Brazilian environmental news agency O Eco, creator of InfoAmazonia, and a Knight International Journalism Fellow of the International Center for Journalists.

News can be browsed in Portuguese, Spanish, and English, reflecting the fact that the Amazon spreads across nine South American countries and is of global interest. Once a story icon is clicked, it appears in a sidebar along with photos or video.

“InfoAmazonia’s development happened at a time when there is a lot of talk about open source data,” added Faleiros. “There are many institutes and NGOs which have collected data about the Amazon region for many years. But they have not made this data available to the general public. This project will provide a platform to share this data together with other open source data such as on deforestation provided by Brazil’s government and on forest fires from NASA satellites.”

This innovative approach has a time-honored purpose: to help discover and protect the rich natural heritage of the world’s largest rainforest by encouraging an informed and active public.

Changing Planet