Investigative journalism with satellite images (PART 1)

The first part of this three-part series will explore the value boundaries for satellite investigations. We will zoom in on illegal deforestation monitoring in the Amazon rainforest and discuss illegal fishing.

The merit of analyzing boundaries to preclude illegal activities

Deforestation in South America

The data

Download the files with the title of ‘Natural Protected Areas’
Protected areas Shapeful in Google Earth
Drastic differences between 2014 and 2016 in protected areas.
Button to upload your KML file
August 8, 2020, Sentinel 2 images

More illegal deforestation?

2019 tree cover loss, a big patch of forest land lost in a single year.
Deforestation levels comparing 2019 versus the period capturing 2017 & 2018
Selecting the right polygons on the Bolivian/Paraguayan border
Upload your KML file for selected features under ‘Analysis -> Drag and drop your polygon data files’
Process to export shapefile features from QGIS in KML format for Global Forest Watch
Upload protected areas in the state of Roraima


Tweet by @defis_eu
Left: To clarify, the August 2020 fires appear dangerously close to the protected sector but seem to remain outside of it. Right: Google Earth showing the protected zone

Update (August 26)

Checking for deforestation forest fires 🔥 within protected sectors: Black areas are protected under the WDPA classification and yellow/red spots are deforestation fires from 2020

Illegal fishing

Protected areas around British shores (2020, WDPA,
How to upload Geojson boundary files to Global Fishing Watch
In red, protected areas according to WDPA
Left, a map from the NBC story, and right using GFW’s tool to confirm some of the evidence that lots of fishing tool place (mainly in the summer of 2019, it seems), crossing the NK sea border.
Check this tutorial on how the 5GIT OSINT tool works. Indication for these interference tracks may suggest a potential existence of a defense system. This can then be checked with some boundary files that you have at hand.
Source: Dreamstime

Investigative journalist with a technical edge, interested in open source investigations, satellite imgs, R, python, AI, data journalism and injustice

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store