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The Creative Way These Old Smartphones Are Saving Rainforests

By Brian Spaen

Just in time for Earth Day, one of the largest student-driven programs will work to protect our rainforests from illegal logging. How? For the next month, the “Planet Guardians” program will repurpose old smartphones into listening devices that run through solar panels. These will be installed over 100,000 acres of rainforests in Brazil, Indonesia, and Peru in the coming years.

Illegal logging happens when regulations are not followed in the process of cutting down trees and trading them as timber or pup. Violations occur if loggers aren’t paying taxes or are harvesting inside of protected areas, and these rainforests have been noted for the abundance of these practices. Up to 90 percent of logging is expected in Indonesia and up to 80 percent in Brazil.

“Planet Guardians” was created by Rainforest Connection after their founder, Topher White, gathered inspired to help the Tembe indigenous tribe stave off illegal loggers. These workshops to build listening devices from old smartphones will teach hundreds of students about the importance of rainforests to our ecosystem and how what they’re doing is going to help these people protect their rainforests.