New digital tools to improve environmental reporting in the Amazon could prove useful in the Himalayan region

South America is home to the world’s largest rainforest, its greatest river, and some of its most challenging environmental problems, from pollution to deforestation. Yet, like in the Himalayas, environmental issues are often overlooked by the region’s media.

This is why environmental journalist and mapping expert, Gustavo Faleiros, has been developing ways to use data journalism tools to tell environmental stories.

He and his partners at O Eco, a Brazilian news website, started reporting extensively on forest fires in Brazil by asking the public to contribute reports and pictures. This grew into a mapping platform, InfoAmazonia, which combines georeferenced environmental news articles with data on deforestation, fires, protected areas, and oil and gas concessions in the Amazon.

More recently, O Eco has launched its Environmental News Lab (EcoLab) to develop a range of new tools that takes innovation from digital journalism and applies them to environmental issues.  These include a platform for citizen journalists, a database of information about reporting on river quality, and a database to show who is who in environmental policy in Brazil.

The project brings together data analysts, developers, designers, cartographers and of course many journalists throughout the nine countries in the Amazon basin region.

Faleiros hopes this model can be used to improve environmental reporting in other regions of the world as well: “We believe that using tools that can interpret large datasets and make them interactive can strengthen understanding of the current challenges the earth is facing, whether it is in the Amazon or the Himalayas. We hope to enhance the impact of environmental journalism and influence political change,” said Faleiros.

Watch a video about InfoAmazonia here:

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