Topher White inspects a Rainforest Connection audio sensor built to detect sounds of chainsaws in Sirukam, West Sumatra province, Indonesia, on December 12, 2020. Photo Credit: Thomson Reuters Foundation/Harry Jacques

Technology Indonesia15. February 2021

Illegal Loggers: The Trees Are Listening!

Twenty-seven sensors have been installed at the top of trees to eavesdrop on the forests of the West Sumatra province of Indonesia as a means to tackle illegal logging.

“We’re basically building a nervous system for the natural world,” says Topher White, the engineer behind the “Guardian” sensors. “You couldn’t really monitor (the forest reservation) with people walking around, but sound seemed like a good way to capture really anything.”

The audio detection sensor was first built from an old mobile phone, solar panels, and a microphone. Rainforest Connection, White’s nonprofit, collects sounds to protect nature in 12 countries, and its goal is to install tens of thousands of audio sensors in forests around the world in the next few years. Indonesia decided to punish illegal logging, thus using sensors and implementing tougher laws. “Logging has totally stopped – people are afraid of coming to this area,” says a patroller who goes by the name of Jasrialdi.

Thomson Reuters Foundation

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