Solar-Powered Phones Listen In On Rainforest Destruction

Most of us live thousands of miles from a rainforest. While we understand the ecological importance of these unique habitats, we often feel disconnected from what’s actually going on there. Now, a non profit appropriately called Rainforest Connection is hoping to use donated smartphones to bring the reality of illegal rainforest logging home for the entire world.

Rainforest Connection hopes to penetrate the seclusion in which many illegal loggers operate by converting old phones into tree-top listening devices. Powered by tiny solar panels, these “ears” will be programmed to pick up the sound of chainsaws in the area and alert the proper authorities.

rainforest logging

Image via Wakx/Flickr

To deploy this spynet of hidden listening devices, Rainforest Connection founder Topher White plans to install the solar-powered phones sporadically in trees in threatened reserves. Although precious little light makes it through the dense canopy, White thinks it will be enough to allow the phones to perform their important task.

When a logger shows up in a protected area and fires up his chainsaw, the phone’s microphone will pick up the sound, and immediately trigger an alert to a nearby ranger station. If successful, White’s idea will allow for real-time response to those who are slowly eating away at the rainforest in places like Indonesia.

According to Treehugger, “White eventually wants to release a free app for letting users receive the alerts as well, so that the initiative is more expansive and crowdsourced.”

Speaking of crowdsourced–although White plans to use brand new phones to test the idea in the 25,000-hectare Air Tarusan reserve in western Sumatra, the project hopes to eventually utilize donated phones that might otherwise have ended up in the landfill.

For more details about how you could possibly donate your used Android phone to support this project, please see the Rainforest Connection Facebook page.

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog