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Rainforest Proetection

Topher White: What can save the rainforest? Your used cell phone

The sounds of the rainforest include: the chirps of birds, the buzz of cicadas, the banter of gibbons. But in the background is the almost-always present sound of a chainsaw, from illegal loggers. Engineer Topher White shares a simple, scalable way to stop this brutal deforestation — that starts with your old cell phone.

Through his startup Rainforest Connection, Topher White transforms used cell phones into guardians of the rainforest.

In 2012, Topher White founded Rainforest Connection, a startup which converts recycled cell-phones into solar-powered listening devices to monitor and protect remote areas of the rainforest. Now an established NGO, Rainforest Connection has helped stop illegal logging and poaching operations in Sumatra, and the system is being expanded to three more rainforest reserves in Indonesia, the Amazon and Africa.

With a background in physics and engineering, White worked as web chief of ITER and co-founded Enthuse, a sports engagement and mobile rewards platform. For Rainforest Connection, he’s fashioned a simple device made of discarded cell phones and solar panels that detects and sends alerts when it picks up the sound of chainsaws in protected rainforests, allowing for intervention in real time.

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