If you are looking for EIA UK, it's overhere.

Visit Guatemala with Maroon 5 through Virtual Reality

By Maggie Dewane, EIA Press Officer

Last fall when I met with tech pros who boasted about the coming boom of virtual reality, or VR, I skeptically assumed it would be another piece of trendy, flashy technology, limited in its actual use and distribution. Fast forward a few months and I’ve just had my first VR experience and couldn’t be more shocked and impressed. With the aid of technology, I was transported into the jungles of Guatemala with Jesse Carmichael of Maroon 5, entering a world I might not have otherwise known.

Jesse and his band-mate James Valentine, along with Adam Gardner of the band Guster, traveled to remote regions of Guatemala with the Environmental Investigation Agency and the nonprofit Reverb, to learn about the devastating impacts of illegal logging and how communities are well placed to sustainably manage the forests for generations to come.

While traversing the jungle with community leaders and forest managers, Jesse filmed his experience with a unique 360⁰ rig, comprised of six GoPro cameras filming in every direction. The idea was to bring his personal experience back home and share it with friends and fans, so that they too could see what’s happening to our world’s forests. Jesse worked with his friends at RYOT, a multimedia organization focused on cause-based action, to carefully stitch together the videos from the 360⁰ rig. Then they could upload the video to a number of platforms capable of 360⁰ and VR viewing like YouTube, Google, and Facebook, which have different modes that detect when you’re viewing a video that’s been filmed in a 360⁰ perspective.*

Watching Jesse’s video exclusively on RYOT’s own app, I took in the breathtaking views, ancient Mayan ruins, and sounds of distant voices, both human and wildlife.

“The jungle is the provider of resources that enrich our lives,” says Jesse. He’s referring to the precious woods that are being felled for consumer products—everything from tables, toys and tools, to the guitars that he and countless other musicians use in their music. Unfortunately, these products are often made from wood harvested illegally or unsustainably. Forests around the world are being stolen, bringing devastation to wildlife as well as indigenous and local communities while undercutting legal operators. This wood then enters the market as everyday products made for unwitting buyers.

“It’s up to each of us to educate ourselves and shop responsibly,” continues Jesse. “Lumber cut from the forest isn’t just a commercial product, but an integral member of [the] community.”

Experiencing Jesse’s trip, as if I was there to also witness firsthand the effects of illegal logging and the positive impacts of community forest management, gives such a unique perspective to this global issue. This new 360⁰ and VR technology is a new way for viewers to become exposed to critically important issues like this one. Fortunately, musicians like Jesse, James, and Adam are at the forefront of the illegal logging crisis, using their voices to educate, so that we may all make choices that help create a more sustainable and just world.

*An immersive, complete 360⁰ or VR experience is best viewed on a smartphone or a VR headset. The two mediums are different and still growing in quality.

Check out RYOT's video below:

View all Blog Posts

Recent Blog Posts

While the coronavirus pandemic rages on, ravaging Zambia’s economy and crippling its citizens' lives, new findings by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) show that illegal exploitation and trade in mukula (Pterocarpus tinctorius) persists unabated, benefitting a small number of well-connected and wealthy individuals. A probing undercover investigation into illegal mukula logging and trade sheds light on the apparent theft of more than 10,000 trees and unveils information connecting the Zambia Agency For Persons With Disabilities (ZAPD), the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Ministry of Tourism and Arts, and the office of the vice president. Nearly two years after EIA’s exposé on the institutional looting of Zambian forests, it appears that the more things have changed with the pandemic, when it comes to mukula, the more they’ve stayed the same.
Respaldo de Sociedad Civil a Defensora Ambiental en Perú
60 instituciones y miembros de la sociedad civil y organizaciones indígenas en Perú emitieron hoy un comunicado respaldando a la Defensora Ambiental Lucila Pautrat ante los ataques que viene recibiendo de parte de una empresa investigada por la instalación no autorizada de monocultivos agroindustriales en Tamshiyacu, en la Amazonía peruana.

Recent Reports

The Lie Behind the Ply
In an unprecedented investigation that connects threatened forests of Solomon Islands, China’s timber manufacturing hubs, and European importers, our new report The Lie Behind the Ply reveals how European consumers of tropical plywood have been the unwitting drivers of forest degradation. Our findings show that European companies appear to have imported thousands of tons of tropical-faced plywood, at high risk of containing illegal wood and in apparent violation of European law.
Tainted Beef
A new report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) reveals how beef sold in Colombian supermarkets is fueling illegal deforestation in protected Amazon forests and contributing to financing armed groups.

Recent Press Releases

US Company Pleads Guilty to Importing Illegal Timber from Peru
US Company pleads guilty to importing illegal timber from Peru
The Lie Behind the Ply
European Consumers of Tropical Plywood have been the Unwitting Drivers of Threatened Forest Degradation
Follow us @eiaenvironment on twitter for the latest updates!