Smartphones help save forest10/06/2013
Solar-powered smartphones hanging from trees in rainforests are playing an important new role: alerting environmentalists to illegal logging.
The Rainforest Connection is in its pilot stage but will gradually roll out a grand plan: to use smartphones to alert its members when illegal logging is taking place.
Indonesia’s Rainforest Action Network estimates that more than a million hectares of forest is lost in the country every year due to logging, and half of it has been cleared since the 1960s.
De-forestation can be seen using satellite images but actual tracking in real time has eluded rangers and environmentalists until now.
For this pilot, new modified Android smartphones have been donated, but eventually it is hoped that older models will be recycled for the programme.
The solar-panelled phones are placed in wooden boxes that are hung from trees. Their microphones are constantly on and software listens for the sound of chainsaws starting up. This sends an alert to the rangers, who can then investigate.
In this initial stage, it is rangers who will first be alerted to the sound of chainsaws in the rainforest, but eventually the Rainforest Connection hope to release a free app that will allow ‘citizen scientists’ to participate.
The dense Indonesian rainforest is the third largest in the world and home to many unique native species of plants and wildlife.