Guarding nature is tricky... there's a lot of nature out there and many illegal loggers, poachers and gold-miners who are eager to pillage surviving natural areas. What are we to do?
One innovative solution might be to use old smart-phones to detect illicit encroachers in the act. A nonprofit group called Rainforest Connection has begun using the phones to set up monitoring stations in endangered forests -- keeping a sharp ear out for growling chainsaws or the bang of a poacher's gun.
As reported on the leading environmental website Mongabay, the group has tested out their system in Sumatra, Indonesia. It worked a treat, allowing authorities to catch illegal loggers in its first two weeks of operation.
Now Rainforest Connection is scaling up. Partnering with the Zoological Society of London, they are using 30 of the devices with solar-power units to monitor 10,000 hectares of vulnerable forest in Cameroon.
Rainforest connection reckons their devices work far faster than monitoring of forests by satellite. Their system can alert authorities within just 5 minutes of detecting illegal activity, they say, whereas satellite systems can take a week.
It's heartening to see good minds working on creative solutions for serious environmental issues. Let's hope the old smart-phones can do the trick.