The Nature Guardians that Never Stop Listening
An Ancient Treasure
Located on the island of Borneo, Sarawak is Malaysia's largest state. Over 60% percent of its landmass is made up of rainforests and, at an estimated 140 million years old, it is among the oldest rainforests in the world.
Its natural ecosystem also provides food, shelter, and habitats to approximately 10,000 species of plants and a wide array of animals, ranging from the world's smallest squirrel – the pygmy squirrel – to the largest land mammal in Asia – the Asian elephant – and of course the iconic but endangered Borneo orangutan.
Orangutan in Sarawak, Malaysian
However, illegal logging, deforestation, and the expansion of plantations have severely impacted the climate, ecosystem, and biodiversity of the rainforest, placing many species at risk of extinction.
Studies have shown that should current trends continue without an effective intervention plan, the rainforests in Sarawak (and those in other parts in the world) will vanish completely in less than 100 years.
In their fight against illegal deforestation and to protect the area's rainforests and its inhabitants, the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA), Forest Department Sarawak and Sarawak Forestry Corporation have teamed up with the NGO Rainforest Connection (RFCx) and Huawei Malaysia to carry out the Rainforest Guardian Research Project.
The Impact of the Pandemic
For Sarawak, the pandemic has added a unique layer of complexity due to local movement control orders, which has required a new approach to conservation. After all, illegal loggers have remained active during the pandemic, causing alarm among local rangers who understand the urgency of protecting the local ecosystem.
The TECH4ALL Rainforest Connection (RFCx) team has developed a tech-powered solution for providing online training to Sarawak's local rangers. Given that traveling isn't possible, the solution enables seamless communication through the Rainforest Listening Terminal.
Rangers receiving remote training from RFCx teams
Listening to solve the problem
The project uses RFCx's solar-powered Guardian devices in conjunction with Huawei's cloud and AI technologies to detect the sounds of illegal logging, including chainsaws and vehicles in real time.
By listening to better understand the behavior of animals such as the elusive Bornean clouded leopard as well as the sounds of the forest, researchers and conservationists can develop more effective conservation efforts.
By listening to the sounds of the forest, a new chapter has opened for preserving the rich biodiversity and beauty that characterizes these rainforests for generations to come.