Rainforest Rubies
Rainforest Rubies

15 smartphones, hanging from trees, is helping save a rainforest

Saving countless trees from illegal felling is an impossible task. Even if innumerable rangers were asked to monitor these trees at various forests, trees would still be cut. So how does one be sure that no such activity is happening while the ranger is away at the other end of the protected forest? Can Technology help?

Topher White, founder of Rainforest Connection, based in San Francisco, a non-profit organisation is launching a pilot project the coming week in the forests of Indonesia that uses modified Android smartphones to record and identify the sound-signatures of chainsaws. Each such device continuously monitors audible frequencies, and abnormal signals (i.e. chainsaw frequencies) are transmitted to an internet-based central database. Alerts are generated in real-time and sent to responsible agents in the forest, enabling real-time intervention. Each phone is also connected to a specially designed solar panel so that it does not run out of juice.

The project in Indonesia will use 15 new phones donated for the trial to monitor a 62,000-acre reserve, but the non-profit plans to use recycled handsets donated by supporters who upgrade to new models.

Initially only rangers will be notified but in due course of time, a free app will enable anyone to receive real time alerts. Data generated through this platform are also made freely available through an open web service (API), allowing a global community of software developers to build real-time apps. And of course once you’ve done your good deed for the day you, can kick back and watch a flick on your phone with the MovieBox app I’m sure you’ve heard of by now.

If you have a spare phone and want to put it to some good use, you may just be able to save countless trees in your area. White hopes to simplify the technology so that citizens will be able to use their phones by placing them on trees and begin tracking loggers real-time!

We want to make people feel like they are taking part in the dramatic events on the front lines of environmental protection. White told New Scientist

If the microphone can help save trees and the forest, I hope they can use the inbuilt camera to track animal poachers too!

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