Using audio recognition software, old solar-powered phones can pick up sounds from chainsaws.
While rainforests cover less than 2% of the Earth’s surface, it is estimated that they are home to half of the world’s animal and plant species. Unfortunately, in places like Indonesia which has the world’s third largest rainforest, illegal logging and deforestation causes the loss of millions of hectares.
Part of the problem is that adequately monitoring millions of acres of forest is nearly impossible for the handful of rangers assigned to the area – until now.
Topher White, the founder of the conservation non-profit Rainforest Connection, has a plan that would alert forest rangers of illegal logging through old Android smartphones. The pilot project, which is set to be tested in the Air Tarusan reserve in Sumatra, uses modified smartphones to identify and record the sound-signatures of chainsaws.
The solar-powered phones will be hung from trees in the rainforest and have their microphones on at all times. When the software detects the audio signature of a chainsaw it will send an alert to rangers with the location of the illegal logging. The phones will have a range of half a kilometer, with the aim to use phones donated by group members and supporters.
While initially only forest rangers will receive alerts, White hopes to release a free app on a larger scale that would “make people feel like they are taking part in the dramatic events on the front lines of environmental protection.” Additionally, White hopes to make the phone placement and alert system a locally driven initiative to involve the community nearest to the destruction.
The initiative certainly seems to have potential in increasing the response of proper officials, but it would also seem that releasing the information on a larger scale could pose problems with people taking matters into their own hands, or even inadvertently tipping-off the very people doing the illegal logging.