Eavesdropping Illegal Logging

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  • Police seize evidence of illegal logging in Mahakam river, East Kalimantan (5/20). Tempo/FIRMAN HIDAYAT

    Police seize evidence of illegal logging in Mahakam river, East Kalimantan (5/20). Tempo/FIRMAN HIDAYAT

    TEMPO.CO, Solok - Six smartphones are now installed on each corner of conservation forest Subayang, Solok Regency, West Sumatra. The gadgets are installed next to solar cells which supply power to the phone in order to keep them working.

    "After a month, we have not heard the sound of chainsaw from Subayang," said Christoper White earlier this month. This good news means there has been no illegal logging in the 100-hectare forest that belongs to Chanee Kalaweit, an activist of owa conservation.

    The solar cells-powered smartphones are designed to capture the sound of chainsaw which are used by moles to cut trees. The microphone on the gadget is used as the 'ear' and when the noise from chainsaw is heard, the phone will send a short message to White. The warning will then be forwarded to the forest rangers.

    Through the website http://rainforestconnection.org, White invites volunteers to donate their used smartphones to be installed on the further areas. This smartphone installation is recorded as monumental event. "This is the first illegal logging eavesdropping project in the world," said the man from San Fransisco, California, United States.

    According to Kalaweit, the founder of Kalaweit Conservation Organization, the illegal logging has often been revealed when the trees were already cut down. "It has always been late," said Kalaweit. He received the information from the conservation activist who works for Kalaweit in Central Kalimantan and West Sumatra.

    The delay will result in fatal destruction to the rainforest, which is home to various endemic animals, such as tigers, clouded leopards, siamangs, golden cats, and owa. When the home is destroyed, their life is also at stake.

    White, a graduate majoring in physics from Kenyon College, United States, was then developing the idea to use smartphones to eavesdrop the sound of chainsaw that is being used by the illegal loggers.

    The smartphones are also equipped with water absorbent beads and water resistant coating. "The device is water resistant. It has been tested," said White. The total weight of the device is less than 1 kg.

    Kalaiwet plans to install cellphones in other Kalaweit's conservation area such as Air Tarusan in West Sumatra and Hampapak in Central Kalimantan. He is also developing algorithms that allow the cellphones to send their monitoring results to the public-accessible servers. "An application programming interface is now being developed," said Kalaweit.