A few months ago I wrote about how satellite data is being used to keep an eye on the world’s forests, and identify illegal logging. Global Forest Watch is a great project, but it can only display the results of logging once it’s too late. The trees have already been cut down. Rainforest Connection is a new project that goes one better.
The project takes old smartphones and re-purposes them, weather-proofing them and fitting them out with solar panels. They are then hidden in tree tops in the forest, programmed to listen out for the sound of chainsaws. If they hear the distinctive sound of tree-felling in progress, they send an alert. Rangers can immediately respond.
When the project was piloted in Indonesia, rangers were able to get to an illegal logging site fast enough to catch the poachers in the act. Further demonstration projects are planned, one in Africa and one in the Amazon. The next stage of development has been funded through Kickstarter, and you can still chip in if you are so inclined.