If a tree falls...
Protecting the rainforest in Belize
There is a famous philosophical thought experiment that asks: If a tree falls in the forest and no-one is there, does it still make a sound?
For Richard Pyshorn of Cornwall-based Secure Forests CIC, the answer is a definitive yes. “With the livestreaming acoustic sensors that we’ve installed high in the canopy of a tropical forest in Belize, we can hear chainsaws, vehicles, gunshots and, yes, falling trees at home here in Cornwall.”
If you came along to the first ever in-person Armchair Adventure Festival you might have met Richard over in the Survival Zone. He's the founder of Survival Wisdom, who are based at Mount Edgcumbe and who ran all the classes in the Survival Zone. Richard also worked as chief health and safety consultant for the festival and put tonnes of work into making sure our first event ran safely.
Instead of paying him for his hours and hours of work for the festival, Richard asked that we make a donation to his community interest company, Secure Forests. The festival was able to make a £1,000 donation which was enough to buy an acoustic sensor to help the fight against deforestation.
Richard will be taking the sensor to one of Secure Forest's existing projects in Belize, Central America. The “Guardian” sensor will help to protect over 3.5 Sq Km of rainforest. Richard plans to travel to Belize in the New Year to train the Rangers on the system and get them to install the sensor 80 ft into the forest canopy. The sensor can then be controlled remotely and will monitor a range of acoustic events including chainsaws and gunshots! The sensor will warn the Ranger by text message when it detects these illegal events. The Ranger and Protected Area Manager can then make a safe and informed assessment of the situation before sending a patrol into the forest to investigate.
As we all know, protecting the environment has never been more important. During 2020 more than 12 million hectares of tropical tree cover was lost globally, including 4.2 million hectares of previously undisturbed primary tropical forests. This represents a 12% increase compared to 2019. Whilst the global economy contracted by around 3.5%, pandemic-related lockdowns contributed to this forest loss by limiting the mobility of forest rangers to patrol and this was exacerbated by a global urban-rural migration that increased pressure on fragile forest resources. So the pandemic actually accelerated tropical forest deforestation.
We'll follow this story in to 2022 and keep you up to date with how Richard gets on installing the sensor. We will be able to follow Richard's journey into the incredible rainforests of Belize, meet the Ranger team on the ground, and see the Armchair Adventure Festival sensor being installed. We will then update you with the sounds of the forest, so you can discover some of the incredibly beautiful rare birds such as the Scarlet Macaw, The Harpy Eagle and primates such as the Central American Black Howler Monkey!