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13 September 2012

Environmental officers go back to their roots in joint INTERPOL and Brazilian Federal Police initiative

MANAUS, Brazil – Jungle survival and the use of geoprocessing tools were just two elements in a Law Enforcement Against Deforestation (LEAD) training initiative for environmental enforcement officers provided by INTERPOL in collaboration with the Brazilian Federal Police.

Held at the Brazilian Environmental Police Training Centre in Manaus, in the state of Amazonas, the week-long course in August was part of INTERPOL’s LEAF Project (Law Enforcement Assistance for Forests) which provides support and capacity building for forestry compliance and security in order to combat illegal logging and deforestation.

Specialist officers from eight countries – Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Paraguay and San Salvador – underwent training in both basic skills such as jungle navigation and orientation, and high-tech modules on using satellite software, which assists in not only identifying unlawful land clearing, but can also provide the evidence required for criminal and/or administrative prosecution.

Supported by the Norwegian Agency for Development (NORAD) through funding for INTERPOL’s Project LEAF, an initiative in collaboration with UNEP’s GRID-Arendal, the expertise gained by participants will now be shared with other national specialist officers to assist future law enforcement and intelligence-led illegal logging and forestry crime operations.

Alex Iza Vilema of the Environmental Protection Unit of the National Police of Ecuador who took part in the training said: “Spending a week in a region with such rich and diverse wildlife has made me reconsider the great work we do, which is not always valued. Having seen a group of people from different countries addressing the problems we have with regard to environmental protection, the procedures, the problem and its implications, it is clear that our work is of vital importance.”

“The course was a milestone and should serve as a model for future actions to be undertaken by INTERPOL. It was a rare opportunity to share experiences and create a spirit of harmony which I think will be of fundamental importance in future law enforcement operations,” said INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Programme Operations Manager Marco Antônio Araújo de Lima.

Further similar training courses will be organized by INTERPOL in addition to coordinating operations targeting illegal logging and organized crime targeting forest areas.