How To: Save a Rainforest With Your Old Mobile

How To: Save a Rainforest With Your Old Mobile

How do you recycle your old mobile phones?

A startup NGO called Rainforest Connection uses recycled mobile phones to detect illegal logging in Indonesian rainforests. Phones are placed in the tree canopy where when triggered by sound send an alert to nearby rangers. Each device can service an area up to three square kilometres and the phones are powered by solar energy.

The moment a sound of a chainsaw is heard in the forest, the device picks up the sound of the chainsaw, it sends an alert through the standard GSM network that’s already there to a ranger in the field who can in fact show up in real time and stop the logging.” Topher White, Rainforest Connection Founder.

This ingenious method of using old mobile phones also facilitates real-time intervention against illegal logging. Considering that the US alone trash more than 150 million mobile phones a year this is one incredible way of giving back to the environment.

Rainforest Connection Infographic

Source: Rainforest Connection


At a recent speech at TED 2014, “What Can Save The Rainforest? Your Used Cell Phone” White explains the difficulties in stopping illegal logging.

It struck me as quite unacceptable that in this modern time, just a few hundred meters away from a ranger station in a sanctuary, that in fact nobody could hear it when someone who has a chainsaw gets fired up. It sounds impossible, but in fact, it was quite true.” Topher White, Rainforest Connection Founder.

White’s solution was a simple, scalable solution that used readily available materials.

Rainforest Connection Device in Tree

Source: Rainforest Connection


Initially, Rainforest Connection had started in Sumatra, and have now expanded to more rainforest reserves in Indonesia, Africa and the Amazon.

Interested in other uses for your old phones? Check out our previous posts: “10 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Old Smartphone” and “How To: Turn an Old Smartphone into a New Gadget“.

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