Amazonas Sustainable Foundation Joins Forces With Google Street View

googleearthamazonNo place on Earth evokes the words ‘environment’, ‘ecology’ and ‘sustainability’ as strongly as the Amazon forest does. The world’s largest forest and the repository of  1/5 of the world's fresh water, the Amazon is an endless source of wonder as well as concern, since it’s under siege by cattle ranchers, loggers and hazardous human occupation.

The Brazilian government managed to curb deforestation during the President Lula's administration, which ended in January. Since then, as Brazilian congress debates whether to weaken legislation that protects the country’s forest coverage, the Amazon has seen deforestation rates soar, a worrying development in the region’s biography.

Bad news aside, it will become a little easier for anyone anywhere in the world to admire this famous biome as Google decided to bring the Amazon closer to the people with its Street View technology. The Internet giant five days ago announced its Street View Amazon project on its blog, a collaboration with the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS).

FAS is a partnership between the Government of the State of Amazonas and Bradesco, one of the biggest banks in Brazil. Its mission is to promote “sustainable involvement, environmental conservation and better living conditions for the communities in conversation units in Amazonas state.” Its tagline is to make the standing forest more valuable than felled trees.

The first phase of the project will see Google and FAS teams visiting and capturing images from a 50km section of the Rio Negro River, Google wrote on its blog.

This area extends from Tumbira community near Manaus (the capital of the state of Amazonas) to the Terra Preta community.

Google will then process the imagery of the river and the communities as usual, putting together the still photos into 360-degree panoramics.

“For many outdoor enthusiasts, travelers and environmentalists, this creates an opportunity to experience the wonders of the Amazon, which will be accessible in a way they’d previously only dreamed about”, Google said.

It added it will pedal the Street View trike, a device that allows Google to take pictures of places that are not accessible by car, along the narrow dirt paths of the Amazon villages and maneuver it up close to where human occupation meets the rainforest.

The team will also mount it onto a boat to take photographs as the team sails down the river. The tripod is the same system used to capture imagery of business interiors. It will be used to give viewers a sense of what it’s like to live and work in places such as an Amazonian community center and school.

Street View was launched by Google in 2007. Initially it featured only five cities, but has since grown to include vast sections of countries such as Australia, the UK, the US, Italy and New Zealand.

It would be naive to think that Street View is a kind of hero who will save the Amazon forest or promote sustainability in the region. But it won’t hurt, either, and the more people get to see of this amazing region, they more they’ll love it and want it to be preserved for future generations as well as the wildlife that needs it in order to survive.

Image credit: Google blog