Ever thought an old cell phone could help change the world?

It’s no secret that deforestation is destroying the rainforest. Deforestation, in its simplest definition, is the clearing of a wide area of trees. The deforestation that takes place in the rainforest is far more sinister, however, as it clears wide areas of land used as habitats and resources for native species, plants, and peoples. On average, an estimated 18 million acres of forest are lost each year, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, and 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions are a result of rainforest deforestation, according to WWF

How can we combat this?

Rainforest Connection Founder Topher White had the same question. A San Francisco-based engineer, White piloted a phone-based technology that’s changing the face of deforestation reversal. His solution was simple: Use recycled cell phones to listen closely to the rainforests for the sounds of destruction.

How is this possible?

Though it sounds simple, the process is actually quite complex. According to the organization’s website, Rainforest Connection (RFCx) creates acoustic monitoring systems for those who wish to end illegal deforestation in real-time. They do this by using solar power as a means of energy, hooking up an extra microphone, and listening closely. Because of the symphony of sounds happening naturally throughout the forest, abnormal sounds are difficult to pick out from the rest. The RFCx technology can distinguish the frequency of a chain saw, for example, and send an alert to authorities in order to determine whether the logging is legal or not. According to White, 50-90% of the logging done in the rainforest is unauthorized. This technology also works to detect the sounds of vehicles in the surrounding area that may be used for poaching activity.

So far, Rainforest Connection has monitored over 26,000 hectares of rainforest, which is approximately the equivalent of 26,000 football fields. To hear what they hear, download the app and listen to rainforests in real time! To support them further, consider making a financial donation to further their efforts of protecting tropical rainforests!