3D Birds-Eye View of Peruvian Jungle Provides Insight Into the Amazon

October 05, 2012
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The Amazon River and its surrounding rainforests are shrouded in mystery, and scientists are constantly discovering new species and information culled from the South American jungles. For the most part, experts visit the jungle to study it in person, but new research has created a 3D map of a three-mile stretch of the rainforest in Peru.

"The technology that we have here gives us a first-ever look at the Amazon in its full three-dimensional detail, over very large regions," lead researcher Greg Asner told The Guardian UK. "It's the critical information that's missing for managing these systems, for conserving them and for developing policy to better utilize the Amazon basin as a resource, while still protecting what it has in terms of its biological diversity."

The image was taken from a small plane using a Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) device, which shoots laser beams down onto the rainforest canopy. The refracted light is then channeled into a spectrometer that interprets the information into optical and chemical characteristics. This detailed method of imaging the Amazon gives scientists a way to accurately measure and monitor deforestation and degradation of the region.

The rainforests of Peru account for about 20 percent of the Amazon, and deforestation is a major threat to the environment's delicate ecosystem. Nature travel enthusiasts have flocked to the Peruvian jungles with International Expeditions for more than three decades, where under the guidance of local naturalists they find out first-hand what makes the Amazon such a diverse region. In fact, one in 10 of every known species on the planet makes its home.

Preserving the natural region is key to protecting these creatures, and these new highly-detailed images may be the most accurate method available of measuring carbon levels, which indicate the rate and effects of deforestation, according to The Guardian. Eco travelers on IE’s Amazon River cruises will be able to learn more about how they can help protect one of the natural wonders of the world while taking in the one-of-a-kind sight of the South American rainforest.