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In this Smart Forests Radio episode, we speak with Tom Bewick, former Peru director at Rainforest Foundation US and currently an international project specialist at Nature4Climate. The conversation focuses on the Rainforest Alert, a community forest monitoring system in the Peruvian Amazon that Tom co-developed during his time at the Rainforest Foundation. The Rainforest Alert integrates smartphone technologies, open data deforestation alerts like Global Forest Watch, offline GIS, drones, and satellite imageries to support Indigenous-led monitoring and protection of their territories. Tom discusses how Indigenous communities use the system for their monthly patrols—detecting deforestation activities, patrolling sites, recording evidence, and collectively deciding on a course of action. He also comments on the implications of such a real-time alert system for the intervention process, governance structure, and data ownership.

Interviewers: Kate Lewis Hood and Jennifer Gabrys

Producer: Harry Murdoch

Listen on Apple, Google, and Spotify.


This radio episode was produced by the Smart Forests project funded by the European Research Council. Smart Forests is led by Professor Jennifer Gabrys and is based in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge.

Smart Forests Atlas materials are free to use for non-commercial purposes (with attribution) under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license. To cite this radio episode: Bewick, Tom, Kate Lewis Hood and Jennifer Gabrys, "Rainforest Alert: Indigenous Monitoring in the Peruvian Amazon", Smart Forests Atlas (2024), https://atlas.smartforests.net/en/radio/rainforest-alert. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.10629118.

Header image: A community patroller operating a drone. Image source: Rainforest Foundation US [image]. Retrieved 20 December 2023, from https://rainforestfoundation.org/

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