Rainforest Connection (RFCx) is a non-profit organization that recycles old mobile phones to help protect the rainforest from illegal logging. As it does? Through artificial intelligence aimed at detecting sounds that may be dangerous to the environment in areas of protected forests in tropical forests. These illegal logging are contributing to deforestation – illegal – and an increase in carbon emissions.
Illegal deforestation is a gateway activity to logging tropical forests, one of the main causes of climate change. According to the UN, up to 90% of logging in rainforests is illegal.
One of the most interesting points of the artificial intelligence that this NGO uses is in the automation and, of course, in the socio-economic impact it will have, especially considering the broader ramifications of climate change and the long-term consequences of not to stop this illegal deforestation that continues to endanger the fragile balance of a planet that does not stop asking for help. And it is that the vastness that makes the Amazon rainforest so diverse and fertile also makes it extremely difficult to protect.
If you protect the trees, you protect everything else
Born in 2014, the Rainforest Connection began at that time using second-hand solar-powered phones as listening stations that could alert authorities to the sounds of illegal logging. Now, the machine learning application has empowered the capabilities of the network. Today’s phones are smarter, more modern, and represent a powerful and versatile tool to be used as a wireless sound detector.
Originally, mobiles only heard certain sounds that indicated, for example, the presence of a chainsaw, but introducing the variable of an artificial intelligence in constant learning has resulted in that much more can be made of the audio stream.
Now they can detect gunshots, voices, species … details much more subtle than a sonorous chainsaw. And the good thing is that the AI improves over the months.
The RFCx monitoring system offers the opportunity to protect key areas of the rainforest and respond to alerts in real time, while sharing vast amounts of ecosystem data that help negotiate greater protections in these areas. In some cases, protecting the perimeter of a rainforest may actually mean protecting everything behind it.
What are the current programs of the organization?
The NGO is currently immersed in the Tembé Indigenous Reserve project in Brazil, working with the Tembé indigenous people to protect their tropical forest from illegal logging, illegal settlements and incursions; with the goal of defending a key area of land that the Tembé have successfully reclaimed from destructive illegal settlers. Rainforest Connection has also installed stations in Cameroon and Sumatra, with many more on the way.
Do you want to participate?
Listen to the rainforest in real time thanks to the Rainforest Connection application. With the free RFCx application, you can broadcast live the sounds of the tropical forests around the world in almost real time and from any place and time, transforming our mobiles into guardians that protect forests and fauna from poaching and logging. illegal.