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Open-source maps are saving the rainforest—and the world

Entered in Non-Profit


Freethink set out to tell a story that highlights how MapBiomas is mapping data by showcasing both its technology and its diverse applications of use. 

With a specific focus on land use changes and carbon emissions, we showed how MapBiomas’ mapping data, deforestation report and alert system is used by environmental prosecutors to take action. 

This is a new way to monitor land use changes, recognize problems like deforestation, illegal mining and climate change and how to actionize this data.


When you think of maps, there’s an unshakeable nostalgia attached. Maps were once created and used for major explorations and even the act of holding up a map was a declarative statement that adventure was afoot. Over time, maps were reduced to a folded guide only to be taken out of a glove compartment to wrestle with the wind during road trips. Now, maps are used unconsciously; they’re just another app on our phone. But maps themselves have untapped potential to tell a story of human impact; especially if the area being mapped is considered to be one of the largest carbon sinks in the world: the Amazon.

The Amazon has historically assisted in absorbing carbon emissions and has helped limit global temperature but it’s in a very delicate place. The Amazon rainforest just last year faced its largest deforestation in 14 years and it’s headed towards a new negative record this year.

We’re faced with a scenario where the world’s “carbon sink” could turn into a “carbon bomb” and completely shift where the world stands with climate change.

MapBiomas creates alerts powered by AI that generate illegal deforestation reports and sends them to authorities in the Amazon. A collection of these alerts along with updates on the status of deforestation and its carbon emissions are published in the MapBiomas Annual Deforestation Report. The latest report will be published towards the end of June 2022. The nonprofit plans to expand the alert system to be able to report deforestation not just in the Amazon but across the country. With the alert system, MapBiomas provides a more accurate and actionable source of information to make scientifically-based decisions surrounding climate change and land use policies.


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Entrant Company / Organization Name

Freehink Media (Digital Publisher), Skoll Foundation


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