Radar to protect Amazon

A new radar surveillance system to protect the mighty Brazilian rainforest from deforestation is under construction.

“This is for the defence of Brazil, not just the defence of (the Amazon) territory, but of its economy, people and against burning,” said President Fernando Henrique Cardoso of the US$1.4 billion project, at a visit to the nerve centre of the Amazonian Vigilance System (SIVAM) in the region’s capital, Manaus, Brazilian media reported.

A network of high-tech radars able to track any movement will be spread across the Brazilian section of the vast rainforest, which accounts for 61% of national territory, or an area some 20 times the size of the UK, to counter deforestation and drug trafficking.

The project comprising of 25 radars provided by U.S. aerospace and defence firm Raytheon Co. is under construction and will begin operating fully in 2002, sending information direct to the federal government in far-away Brasilia. In addition, Brazil’s environmental agency, Ibama, will get updates on where there is logging or burning, and the army will receive information to intercept unidentified planes that often fly from neighbouring countries carrying drugs to clandestine air strips. SIVAM also includes weather monitoring stations.

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