Updated on June 1, 2024


Created on November 17, 2019

Rainforest Connection

Rainforest Connection is an open-source solution to help preserve rainforests.

Tested By
  • Zoological Society of London (ZSL)
Content Partners


Product Description

Rainforest Connection is an open-source software and system to help preserve rainforests by detecting poaching and illegal logging. It creates acoustic monitoring systems to detect and reduce illegal deforestation and poaching in real-time.

Target SDGs

SDG 13: Climate Action

SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Target Users (Target Impact Group)

Public Sector Agencies, NGOs

Distributors / Implementing Organizations

Rainforest Connection in partnership with:

  • Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and a local sustainable logging company Rougier in Cameroon
  • Kalaweit Supayang Gibbons Reserve in Sumatra, Indonesia
  • Tembé people of northern Brazil
  • Fundacíon Pro Bosque (FPB) in Ecuador
  • Conservation International (CI) and government rangers in Peru

Manufacturing/Building Method

Rainforest Connection uses old cell phones to create an acoustic monitoring system to detect sounds in the rainforest. Old cell phones stay charged by solar cells and are attached to an extra microphone. The phones can detect the sounds of chainsaws or gunshots nearly a mile away and send a text alert to authorities who can determine whether it is illegal and then stop it. With the Rainforest Connection mobile app, any interested person from around the world can access their sound data.

Intellectural Property Type


User Provision Model

Acoustic monitors are installed through partnerships with NGOs and implementing organizations. The app is free for users to download on Google Play and App Store.

Distributions to Date Status

There are five ongoing monitoring implementations in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Cameroon and Indonesia. The app has been downloaded 1,000+ times on Google Play.

Mobile service required


Devices required

Android device

Additional features required

Highly ­sensitive external microphones attached to the device capture ambient sound within 1 km. Range is somewhat dependent on topography and forest type.

Permanent network connectivity required

Yes, but minimal GSM coverage

Two way communication (Y/N)


Level of coverage needed

Minimal GSM coverage – if GSM coverage is light or intermittent, the devices store data and then transfer data as soon as any connection is detected

Usage rate (%)

The app has been downloaded 1,000+ times on Google Play

Literacy support


List of languages available


Operating system and version


Power Requirements

A configuration of solar panels (designed to capitalize on the thin and short­ lived bands of sunlight that penetrate tree canopies) keep the devices powered and protected from the elements

mAgriculture Application

Environmental monitoring

Design Specifications

At the core of each device is an Android smartphone with an operating system that has been modified and geared toward resource management, internal analytics, and power efficiency. The device has highly sensitive external microphones that can capture ambient sounds, like the sound of chainsaws, enabling immediate intervention from local authorities. The device can pinpoint the exact location the deforestation is taking place. The devices are intended to be autonomous in operation, capable of operating indefinitely in the field, with minimal physical maintenance. Once installed in a tree, they may be considered abandoned until planned removal at the end of their service life (the length of which cannot yet be confirmed, but is expected to be 1­2 years).

Product Schematics

Technical Support

Yes - each on the ground projects is assigned a Project Coordinator who will serve as the contact person if/when there are any issues.  Interview with manufacturer

Replacement Components

Shelf life is about 2 years, and replacement parts include the battery, power board, and cables. Most components are available for purchase on Amazon if needed. Interview with manufacturer


Expected to be 12 years

Manufacturer Specified Performance Parameters

Reduce deforestation and illegal poaching

Vetted Performance Status

Within 24 hours of activating four strategically positioned bugs in the Kalaweit reserve in Sumatra, Indonesia, the RFCX system picked up illegal loggers and dispatched authorities. After two weeks of operation loggers stopped entering the 135-hectare region covered by the system. A year later, they had not returned. The app was rated 4.6/5 on Google Play and 4.9/5 on App Store.



Complementary Technical Systems

Additional microphones

Academic Research and References

Kalhara, P. G., Jayasinghearachchd, V. D., Dias, A. H. A. T., Ratnayake, V. C., Jayawardena, C. and Kuruwitaarachchi, N., 2017, TreeSpirit: Illegal logging detection and alerting system using audio identification over an IoT network, in 2017 11th International Conference on Software, Knowledge, Information Management and Applications (IEEE SKIMA), pp. 1-7.

Perales, V., 2016, The Message Is the Medium: Ecology, Mobility and Emergent Storytelling, in Emerging Perspectives on the Mobile Content Evolution, IGI Global, pp. 336-356.

Garrity, J., 2015, Harnessing the Internet of Things for global development, available at SSRN 2588129.

Marcu, A. E., Suciu, G., Olteanu, E., Miu, D., Drosu, A., and Marcu, I., 2019, IoT System for Forest Monitoring, in 2019 42nd International Conference on Telecommunications and Signal Processing (TSP), pp. 629-632.

Wright, T. M., Andrade, B., Fabiano, G., Hewson, J., Mendoza, E., Pined, J. and Tabor, K., 2018,  Harnessing multiple technologies to combat deforestation–a case study in the alto mayo protected forest in San Martin, Peru, in PARKS, 24, p. 79.

Olteanu E., Suciu V., Segarceanu S., Petre I. and Scheianu A., 2018, Forest Monitoring System Through Sound Recognition, in 2018 International Conference on Communications (IEEE COMM), pp. 75-80.

Gross, M., 2014, Connecting with the natural world, in Current Biology Volume 24, Issue 14, 21 July 2014, pp. 629-632.

“Rainforest Connection – Stopping Illegal Logging & Protecting Wildlife.” n.d. Rfcx.Org. Accessed June 2, 2024. https://rfcx.org/

“Rainforest Connection® Player.” n.d. Google.Com. Accessed June 2, 2024. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.rfcx.android.stream

“?Rainforest Connection.” n.d. App Store. Accessed June 2, 2024. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/rainforest-connection/id1178078181

“ForestLink.” 2021. Rainforest Foundation UK. September 13, 2021. https://www.rainforestfoundationuk.org/our-projects/forestlink/

“Rainforest Connection® Player.” n.d. Google.Com. Accessed June 2, 2024. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.rfcx.android.stream&hl=en_ZA 

Wayt Gibbs, W. n.d. “If Poachers and Illegal Loggers Strike, This Forest Phones It In.” Scientific American. Accessed June 2, 2024. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/if-poachers-and-illegal-loggers-strike-this-forest-phones-it-in/

The Zoological Society of London. 2022. “Conservation in Africa.” Zsl.Org. The Zoological Society of London. October 12, 2022. https://www.zsl.org/what-we-do/habitats-and-regions/regions/africa

Compliance with regulations


Evaluation methods

The product has been evaluated for its ability to reduce illegal logging and user satisfaction using app ratings.

Other Information


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