The Ama­zon rain­for­est is call­ing

To com­bat illegal log­ging, a non-profit equips trees with cell­phones

The China Post - - COMMENTARY - BY ASTRID CHRISTO­PHERSEN

In a nar­row patch of the Ama­zon rain­for­est sur­rounded on all sides by clear-cut pas­ture­land, mem­bers of the Tembe in­dige­nous tribe have pinned their hopes for sur­vival on an im­plau­si­ble idea: that by equip­ping trees with cell­phones they can save both their for­est home and their mil­len­nial way of life.

The Tembe have paired up with a San Fran­cisco- based non-profit called Rain­for­est Con­nec­tion, which uses a tree­top cell­phone de­vice to lis­ten for the trucks, chain­saws and other tell­tale sounds of en­croach­ing log­gers. The brain­child of physi­cist­turned- for­est cru­sader To­pher White, the de­vice looks like a daisy, with a weather- proofed cell­phone from which so­lar pan­els ra­di­ate out, to charge it. Hid­den in the tree canopy, the de­vice transmits am­bi­ent sound to the cloud, where soft­ware pro­grammed to rec­og­nize the sound of chain­saws sends re­al­time alerts to rangers when such noises are de­tected.

It’s al­ready been tested in West Africa and In­done­sia, where it brought an end to log­ging on a small sanc­tu­ary for one of the world’s most en­dan­gered pri­mates, the gib­bon.

But White said the stakes on the Tembe reser­va­tion, in the Brazil­ian state of Para — ground zero of the fight over the fu­ture of the Ama­zon — are even higher.

“It’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween fight­ing against an­ni­hi­la­tion and fight­ing against the de­struc­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment,” said White. “Most of the peo­ple we work for are quite pas­sion­ate about that, but the ur­gency we see from the Tembe is es­pe­cially pal­pa­ble.”

Rain­for­est Con­nec­tion

Rain­for­est Con­nec­tion founder To­pher White. His high-tech de­vice made from dis­carded smart­phones lis­tens for trucks, chain­saws and other sounds of en­croach­ing log­gers. When in­stalled high up in tree canopies, Rain­for­est Con­nec­tion hard­ware is con­sid­ered vir­tu­ally in­vis­i­ble.

Rain­for­est Con­nec­tion

Rain­for­est Con­nec­tion’s high-tech de­vice made from dis­carded smart­phones lis­tens for trucks, chain­saws and other sounds of en­croach­ing log­gers. When in­stalled high up in tree canopies, Rain­for­est Con­nec­tion hard­ware is con­sid­ered vir­tu­ally in­vis­i­ble.

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