Courtesy of Rainforest Connection
Illegal logging accounts for up to 30 percent of all timber traded worldwide, harming communities, undercutting American jobs, and increasing carbon pollution. With criminal operations moving deep into remote areas of forest, fighting back may seem impossible. However, a new startup is proving that it’s possible to fight illegal logging with used cell phones. Rainforest Connection, based in California, has partnered with the Zoological Society of London to develop a real-time monitoring system that will be deployed in vulnerable African forests.
So how does the monitoring system work? The company, Rainforest Connection, recycles used Android cell phones, then powers them with a unique solar array that can generate power in the shade - key to operating in the understory of a rainforest. The phones are then placed throughout a forest, generally high in trees to avoid detection, where they function as listening devices. Each device detects the sounds of chainsaws up to two-thirds of a mile away and relays the data to Rainforest Connection’s online system, which is able to pinpoint the location of the sound. Once the location is identified, an alert is sent to local officials responsible for policing illegal logging, allowing them to respond immediately.