Julia Shimbo is the Scientific Coordinator of MapBiomas, a collaborative network of more than 70 organizations in Brazil and 14 other countries that monitors land use to promote conservation and sustainable management of natural resources. Ecologist with a Masters in Geosciences and Ph.D. in Ecology, she mainly works on understanding land use changes in the tropics and their impacts on climate change, ecosystems, and people. Julia is also a researcher at the Amazon Environmental Research Institute and part of the Brazilian Greenhouse Gas Estimation System (SEEG) Land Use Change sector team.
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- Latin America, ASEAN
MapBiomas — Climate Observatory and Land Cover Mapping Project of Brazil is a network of more than 70 organizations, in Brazil and in 14 countries, including universities, NGOs and technology institutes and startups that monitor transformations in land cover and land use and natural resources in biomes in Brazil, South America and Indonesia. The data helps in the fight against deforestation and fires, in the protection of conservation units and indigenous lands, and in monitoring water resources. In the pandemic, the initiative launched three fronts: MapBiomas Água, MapBiomas Fogo, and Mapbiomas Alerta (which demonstrated that 99.8% of deforestation in Brazil is illegal). With state-of-the-art technology, shared tools and open codes, and at the same time providing academia with scientific data — which has already resulted in more than 240 papers in specialized journals — MapBiomas guides public agencies' actions and investigations, especially the Public Prosecutor's Office, which has already conducted 10 thousand proceedings based on the maps and data generated. It also serves as a reference for Banco do Brasil, the largest agricultural credit agent in the country, to define the concession of loans in areas that have not suffered illegal deforestation.
The georeferenced maps also guide the private sector in defining investments in agricultural areas. The production of reliable and continuous data makes MapBiomas an important source for the media, which echoes data such as the fact that in 2021 Brazil will have claimed the equivalent of 189 hectares of native vegetation every hour, totaling more than 16,000 square kilometers of deforestation last year. This totals more than 16,000 square kilometers of deforestation last year, 20% more than the area deforested in 2020. The data is refined year by year with the major objective of influencing decisions and halting the destruction of the Amazon and other threatened biomes.