Helping save the Rainforests with Android phones

Illegal Logging SumatraHow can you help save a forest with a Smartphone? A fascinating project is underway in Indonesia. It is taking place in the middle of the rainforest and it is called Rainforest Connection. The idea is very interesting – You take an Android phone, attach a solar battery to it and hang it on a tree somewhere in the Sumatran Rainforest. The clever system uses the microphone of the phone to act as a listening device and to pick up the sound of a chainsaw. The system then alerts the authorities, who come and arrest the illegal loggers.

Illegal Log YardWhat is illegal logging?

To put it simply illegal logging is the cutting down of trees without permission or in protected areas and national parks. Illegal logging is a worldwide problem and it occurs in all types of forests and across all continents. It is very hard to control, as it takes place in the middle of huge forests and when we say huge we mean really, really big pieces of land. They are so big that it is nearly impossible to control and monitor what goes on in the forests at all times.

Why is it bad?

Illegal logging causes landslides, flash floods and global warming. It kills animals and endangered species. Illegal logging also robs countries of significant revenues and benefits.

Amazon Time LapseBut we have fancy satellites and stuff

Yes, we do have satellites and they take pictures of the areas where illegal logging has occurred, but the thing is that once we can see it in the picture – it is too late – the illegal loggers have cut down the trees and are long gone.

The new system we are talking about works in real time, meaning you can hear the loggers as they are cutting down the trees. Also it is so much cheaper than owning satellites.

Bore me with numbers

No problem, here are some numbers for you:

•    73% of timber production in Indonesia is believed to come from illegal logging.

•    25% of Russia’s timber exports come from illegal logging.

•    70% of harvested timber in Gabon is considered illegal.

•    An estimated €15 billion ($20 billion) is lost because of illegal logging around the world – Every year!


Rainforest connectionYou can visit Rainforest Connection by clicking on their logo:


To get an idea of what deforestation looks like, please take a look at the Amazon deforestation animation. Might not be available in your area or for your device:


photo credit: <a href=””>CIFOR</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>


photo credit: <a href=””>Wild Sumatra</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>

2 comments for “Helping save the Rainforests with Android phones

  1. June 19, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Cool solution to the logging problem!

  2. Jon Moore
    January 12, 2015 at 10:56 am

    The time lapse maps are of Borneo in Indonesia, not the Amazon.

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