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New Technology to Help Combat Illegal Logging

February 25, 2005

IN an effort to control illegal logging,the Ministry of Environment and Energy(MINAE) has acquired 60 hand-held computersto detect where the activity is takingplace, Environment Minister CarlosManuel Rodríguez announced last week.The new high-tech system, funded bya $350,000 donation from the UnitedNations Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO), will allow environment officialsto monitor a Web site that displaysinformation on forests that are beingmanaged adequately and those that arenot, along with their location. The objectiveis to detect violations to the ForestryLaw by detecting transformations ofareas from forest to cleared land withoutthe proper permits.“President Abel Pacheco asked us atthe beginning of his term (in 2002) to prioritizethe issue of illegal logging. InCosta Rica, 33-35% of felling is illegal,”Rodríguez said. “This system is verymodern and will place us among the leadingcountries in the struggle against illegalfelling.”Twenty-two of the hand-held computerswere donated by the Foundation forDevelopment of the Central VolcanicMountain Range (FUNDECOR), whoseWeb site is the host of the logging-detectionsystem.“The system will allow us to visit afarm at any moment, and from there,(access the online maps) and see if therewas a forest there before,” MinisterRodríguez said.Among the areas that suffer the mostdeforestation here are the Caribbean provinceof Limón, the Northern Zone andthe Central Valley, according to FUNDECOR.To find out how to collaborate in theprotection of Costa Rica’s forests, visitwww.fundecor.org.

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