In a bid to prevent deforestation and preserve culture, Google on 2 July announced the integration of Brazil's indigenous territories into its maps. In partnership with Fundacao Nacional do Indio (FUNAI), Brazil's governmental agency overseeing indigenous affairs, Google Maps and Earth now represent Brazilian indigenous territory labels and borders in a way that reflects the landscapes known to the local communities.
"On Google Maps and Earth, you can now see the names of certified indigenous territories in Brazil, search for indigenous territories using the name of the ethnic group living there and see how forests are maintained in these areas compared to other parts of the Amazon," Raleigh Seamster, Program Manager, Google Earth Outreach, said in a blog post.
Brazil has one of the world's most diverse populations, with more than 500,000 indigenous people living on 472 territories certified by the government representing 13 percent of Brazil's total land. Most of these territories are in the rapidly-changing Amazon region, the largest and most bio-diverse tract of tropical rain-forest in the world. Deforestation has had a devastating effect on indigenous people and the local economy, destroying biodiversity, and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.
Google said that integrating indigenous territories into its maps is an essential step in accurately reflecting the world and showing how the indigenous communities play an important role in preserving the natural biodiversity and cultural richness of the Brazilian Amazon.
"By defining Brazil's indigenous territories we can show the world the role these communities play in maintaining global socio-biodiversity," Artur Nobre, Presidential Advisor, FUNAI, said in a statement.This update builds on other work by Google Earth Outreach to support cultural preservation and land management. A similar update was announced earlier this month for Canada.