Rainforest Connection

Rainforest Connection (RFCx) is an acoustics-based, real time monitoring system aimed at combating illegal deforestation. Since 2014, the San Francisco start-up has been upcycling used cellphones to create their devices, preventing e-waste in the process of providing monitoring coverage to portions of protected rainforest under threat by loggers. The old cellphones are transformed into solar-powered listening devices, and are placed in areas where logging is illegal in order to capture the sounds of chainsaws and trucks and alert the proper officials. RFCx works closely with Indigenous peoples in bringing dynamic technology to facilitate their land defense efforts, and has collaborated with the Amazonian Tembé tribe and the Guna people of the Mamoni Valley in Panama. Unlike other novel digital monitoring technologies, RFCx does not rely on transmission to smartphones, which not all individuals may have access to in remote tribal areas. Instead, the software within the monitoring devices transmits information to the Rainforest Connection cloud API, which alerts personnel on the ground through a cellular network, meaning any mobile device can be used. While RFCx also focuses on stopping the poaching of wildlife, most of their efforts are geared towards preventing deforestation, as they believe that protecting the forests leads to protecting the entire ecosystems they harbour. Another initiative RFCx is piloting is the Audio Ark rainforest sounds database, a bioacoustic platform where users can browse rainforest soundscapes. As Neil Young wrote about RFCx, “when the forest is threatened, the forest can speak. And for the first time, you can hear it.”


Ecological Monitoring, Illegal Resource Extraction, Internet of Things, Monitoring