Google, Indians Join Forces To Limit Logging

    June 19, 2007

Most businesses have a formal and structured environment; at Google, jeans are the norm, and dogs are allowed at work.  But in a move that goes far beyond normal business practices – think pygmy marmosets instead of Great Danes – the search engine company has announced a development involving a tribe of Brazilian Indians.

Together, the Surui tribe and Google Earth will “try to capture vivid images that could help stop loggers and miners from deforesting the jungle and digging for gold on its vast Amazon reservation,” according an AP article in The Columbia Daily Tribune.

Unfortunately, success is not a sure thing.  “[T]he project is still in the planning stages for a remote area that doesn’t even have Internet access yet,” Alan Clendenning continues, and it remains to be seen if Brazilian criminals will care about being visible to (what they might view as) a bunch of American computer geeks.  As for local laws, the AP says, “government enforcement is spotty at best.”

Still, the project may be representative of Google’s increasing interest in Central and South America.  Other recent developments include a Googler giving the keynote address at SES Latino 2007, and earlier today, the launch of a Brazil-specific YouTube site.

Google’s also ramping up its efforts on the environmental front – this morning, the company gave a “clean energy update” that involved plug-in hybrids and solar panels.  After some PR problems, its involvement with the Surui tribe may well be part of a campaign to help Google become “good” again.