In 2015, the UN set the Sustainable Development Goals, ambitious targets for a better and more sustainable future by 2030. AI can reduce the time and resources needed to progress against some of the world's toughest challenges.
Google.org is committing $25M to fund solutions accelerating progress towards the Global Goals. In this post, I will introduce Rainforest Connection, one of the Google.org grantees that uses AI to accomplish its mission.
Rainforests naturally absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, making them a vital component in fighting climate change — but they are under profound threat from illegal logging - which accounts for more than half of logging in rainforests. Rainforest Connection develops acoustic monitoring technology that uses AI to protect vulnerable ecosystems by detecting threats like illegal logging in real time. The solar-powered acoustic devices used for threat detection, called RFCx Guardians, transmit audio to the cloud. Then, AI analyzes and classifies the data collected to detect signals like chainsaws, vehicles, and gunshots that could alert ground partners of potential threats.
At the same time, the devices monitor the biodiversity of a given area to inform conservation action better, tracking the presence of hundreds of species.
RFCx has monitored more than 144,000 hectares of rainforest, in more than 35 protected reserves, across 32 countries. Having collected 76 million minutes of audio data, they've identified over 2,700 species worldwide. With all this information, they are helping partners protect rainforests from threats and monitor biodiversity to inform conservation action.