Moy Park and Pilgrim’s Pride owner JBS are investing $5.3m (£4.2m) in an artificial intelligence-based wildfire detection system in the Pantanal, a vast wetland tropical covering the border regions of Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil.
A spokeswoman for the Brazilian protein giant said the project would create “a 24/7 system that processes high-resolution images captured by the communications tower’s cameras through an artificial intelligence algorithm and automatically identifies fires”.
The new firefighting and prevention effort was to cover an area of wetland equivalent to the size of Belgium, according to a JBS statement, and would be overseen by a “task force” made up of companies, officials governments, scientists and non-governmental organizations.
Each camera can detect fires in seconds and pinpoint the exact location where firefighters need to deploy, JBS said, adding that the network would be supported by a satellite detection system and a fire danger index.
There are plans to triple the scope of the protected area in a second phase, JBS said, saying the system could prevent the emission of up to 15 million tons of C02.
The announcement came after devastating “mega-fires” two years ago that killed millions of animals and burned around 11 million acres in the Pantanal.
Estimated to be the largest tropical wetland in the world, the 42 million acre Pantanal covers an area larger than England and is home to South American wildlife such as jaguars and anacondas. In the years leading up to the 2020 fires, the Pantanal attracted around one million tourists a year, although around 95% of the land was private and used primarily for cattle grazing, according to WWF.
Liege Correia, director of sustainability at JBS Friboi, one of the conglomerate’s leading Brazilian brands, said the system “would benefit the entire livestock value chain, as fires devastate the ecosystem, seriously harm rural properties and release polluting gases into the atmosphere that cause global damage.” warming up”.
“In addition to fighting the fire, one of the biggest challenges has been to establish partnerships and a relationship of trust with the producers in the region,” said Caroline Nobrega, director of Aliança da Terra, who , according to JBS, was “responsible for organizing and maintaining” the fire brigade.
Environmental groups such as Greenpeace have blamed ranchers who sell beef to JBS for starting the 2020 fires. JBS in turn said it “repudiates any aggression or violence against the environment”.
JBS was separately accused in April of “greening” its emissions reduction pledges by a coalition of NGOs, criticisms which JBS called “misleading”.
A month earlier, the company announced it would build its own fertilizer plant in Brazil as concerns over prices and supply grew following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.