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Land 2017, 6(4), 86; doi:10.3390/land6040086

Grassroots Innovation Using Drones for Indigenous Mapping and Monitoring

1
Centro de Investigaciones en Geografía Ambiental, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Antigua carretera a Pátzcuaro No. 8701, Morelia CP 58190, Michoacán, Mexico
2
School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas, 800 West Campbell Road, GR 31, Richardson, TX 75080-3021, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 2 November 2017 / Revised: 2 December 2017 / Accepted: 4 December 2017 / Published: 7 December 2017
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Abstract

Indigenous territories are facing increasing pressures from numerous legal and illegal activities that are pushing commodity frontiers within their limits, frequently causing severe environmental degradation and threatening indigenous territorial rights and livelihoods. In Central and South America, after nearly three decades of participatory mapping projects, interest is mounting among indigenous peoples in the use of new technologies for community mapping and monitoring as a means of defense against such threats. Since 2014, several innovative projects have been developed and implemented in the region to demonstrate and train indigenous communities in the use of small drones for territorial mapping and monitoring. In this paper, we report on five projects carried out in Peru, Guyana, and Panama. For each one we describe the context, main objectives, positive outcomes, challenges faced, and opportunities ahead. Preliminary results are promising and have gained the interest of many indigenous societies who envision this technology as a powerful tool to protect their territories and strengthen their claims regarding specific environmental liabilities and justice issues. Based on the results presented here and a review of previous similar studies, we offer a critical discussion of some of the main opportunities and challenges that we foresee regarding the use of small drones for indigenous territorial mapping and monitoring. In addition, we elaborate on why a careful, well thought-out, and progressive adoption of drones by indigenous peoples may trigger grassroots innovations in ways conducive to greater environmental justice and sustainability. View Full-Text
Keywords: community innovations; environmental conflicts; environmental justice; political ecology; indigenous peoples; indigenous territories; participatory mapping; conservation; Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) community innovations; environmental conflicts; environmental justice; political ecology; indigenous peoples; indigenous territories; participatory mapping; conservation; Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Paneque-Gálvez, J.; Vargas-Ramírez, N.; Napoletano, B.M.; Cummings, A. Grassroots Innovation Using Drones for Indigenous Mapping and Monitoring. Land 2017, 6, 86.

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