“Save the rainforest” is a phrase that has been so widely used we don’t even consider the importance of its meaning anymore. Afterall, what can you really do to help save the rainforests of the world besides donate money you don’t have or sell everything you own, buy a plane ticket, and tape yourself to an ancient Indonesian tree full of ants? Finally, there is a simple solution for those of us who want to conserve the world’s forests without all the dirty work.
How many times have you upgraded your cell phone? Now that you have thought about it, was that phone actually broken or just too slow for you? Talk about first world problems.
E-waste is a real issue, only furthered by our insatiable thirst for electronics. In a similar vain is the problem of deforestation, which can only be described as our systematic destruction of the natural world we live in for money, farming, or the production of goods. However, a San Fransisco start-up named the Rainforest Connection has a elegant solution for both.
Taking an old Android cell phone equipped with a custom app, Rainforest Connection hopes to strategically place these ordinary devices within the Indonesian rainforest. Constantly enabled, they work by detecting abnormal noises, like the roar of a poacher’s chainsaw, alerting the nearby rangers so they may intervene. Equipped with a listening radius of .5km and powered by the sun, this becomes a much more effective method of enforcement by simply stopping deforestation of the rainforest before it starts – far more useful then aerial maps that only show the barren landscape where the chopping has already been done.
Founder Topher White also envisions the day in which others can participate in the activity, even designing self-contained boxes that can be simply hung up and turned on, coupled by a free Android app with real-time alerts:
We want to make people feel like they are taking part in the dramatic events on the front lines of environmental protection…We’ll ultimately rely upon locals to intervene when an ‘event’ is detected. Making it simple, effective and accessible for them is our first priority.
For now, the organization is working with specific partners to use new phones for the project. However, the day isn’t far when the average Joe can donate his old phone to the cause. It’ll make the upgrade to the HTC Moto Mega Droid II.7 much more justified.