This Startup is Turning Old Phones into Forest Guardians

”Up to 90% of forest logging is made by illegal loggers” – Interpol

Our earth’s lungs and habitat for millions of species had been illegally logged and depleted for a long time, dramatically aggravating global warming and mass extinction. While most of us were feeling frustrated and powerless, start-up Rainforest Connection was working on a way to struck illegal loggers from the very heart of our forests. Indeed Rainforest Connection is reusing our old cellphones and encase them in solar panels, then install them high in the canopy to capture unusual sounds (like the sound of a chainsaw) in forest’s remote areas and alert rangers of any illegal activity.

rainforestconnection-canopy rainforestconnection-oldphone

Images by RainForest Connection

Illegal Logging: an issue with many ramifications

Illegal logging (harvesting, transporting, processing, buying or selling of timber in violation of national laws)  does not only occurs in Rainforest like the Amazon, but in all types of forests around the world. From Brazil to Canada, Cameroon to Kenya, and from Indonesia to Russia, illegal logging is responsible for destroying nature and wildlife, changing local communities for the worst and distorting trade. Everyone – including you and me – are somehow accomplice in this illegal trade:  we have to understand that illegal logging primarily exists because of the increasing demand of timber and all paper products – including packaging –  that people like you and me are consuming.  Illegal logging can also happen when forests are cleared for plantations such as oil palm, the demand being fed by the food and cosmetics industries, and recently increasing for use in biofuels. Also around 50% of removed wood is used for woodfuel at a global level, simply for basic energy needs.


Infographic by RainForest Connection

Sad to say, weak law enforcement and poorly implemented trade rules are not helping resolving the issue, which is much more complicated than it seems to be at first sight. Stopping trees from being cut is great but only treat the symptoms, not the cause. Illegal logging is often the only income  for people living in these forests (though most of the benefits are of course reap off by logging compagnies), and it is sometimes their only way to survive even though it also sometimes threaten their lives. Even countries who implemented strong laws on illegal logging are not exempt from corruption. Like in many illegal (and legal) trades, the entities who are pulling the strings are rarely sanctioned while poor people at the bottom of the scale often take the blame.

I believe Rainforest Connection action will definitely make a difference by helping authorities enforcing the law and hopefully engage the public in a conversation around ethical consumption. Ideally only imported timber coming from ecologically well-managed sources should be able to be imported and sold but in practice the only way to ensure that what you buy comes from legal well-managed ressources is too seek products that have been independently certified by the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council™. This include your tissues, toilet paper, furniture and any paper – cardboard packaged product that you buy…A couple of minutes reading the labels or checking the product’s origins online are never wasted if you want to make a difference.

Read more about illegal logging on WWF website and illegal logging in the Amazon on Greenpeace website

Note that you can still back up Rainforest Connection Kickstarter campaign here and/or get involved by donating money or your old smartphone  to the organization.

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