Hitachi Vantara, the digital infrastructure and solutions subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd. (TSE: 6501), and Rainforest Connection, the non-profit that uses real-time data to enable partners to stop deforestation and poaching, have developed a unique solution that uses eco-acoustic data to predict illegal logging in the world’s rainforests.
Every two seconds1, an area of rainforest the size of a football field is destroyed, causing the extinction of hundreds of animal and plant species every year, contributing to droughts, and threatening indigenous reserves across multiple continents. Deforestation accounts for 10%2 of all worldwide carbon emissions, making it a massive contributor to global warming, with up to 90%3 of deforestation attributed to illegal logging.
Rainforest Connection builds devices called ‘Guardians’ that are installed high in the rainforest canopy to collect acoustic data from the rainforest. The company detects chainsaw events in real-time and sends rangers an audio file to review, verify and reference to arrange to go on site. This entire process can take up to 14 days and in some cases trees are lost by the time rangers arrive.
Hitachi Vantara has created a new solution to help predict illegal rainforest activity and shorten rangers’ time to site. Using the company’s Lumada data analytics technology, Hitachi Vantara built algorithms that create a baseline of rainforest sounds. This bio-acoustic signature then simplifies and accelerates the process of identifying acoustic anomalies. For example, before starting a chainsaw, loggers will typically scout appropriate locations in advance. Their presence causes a change in species’ acoustic signatures and signals a disruption to the environment. Hitachi Vantara’s solution detects these advance warnings and alerts rangers in real-time. Rangers use this technology get up to five days lead time to arrive on site. This head start gives rangers valuable time to pre-position themselves and prevent even more deforestation than they can today.
With both companies sharing common ideals of social responsibility to the environment, Hitachi Vantara and Rainforest Connection established a partnership in 2019. At Hitachi’s conference, NEXT 2019, Hitachi Vantara announced the partnership and donated $250,000 in cash and in-kind services to Rainforest Connection to support its mission. Hitachi Vantara and Rainforest Connection have since worked together to co-create and design the bio-acoustic solution. The solution is now live in Sumatra, where over 70% of all deforestation is illegal4. The solution is scheduled to rollout to the entire network of Rainforest Connection guardians, located in over 11 countries, in 2021.
“The projects with Hitachi Vantara are game-changing for Rainforest Connection,” said Topher White, CEO, Rainforest Connection. “We’ll be able to scale up our operations and provide rangers with greater certainty around when logging events are likely to happen.”
“The rainforest of Sumatra and Silicon Valley may be separated by thousands of miles, but data is the bridge between us, and has to be the foundation for solving some of our planet’s biggest challenges,” said Gajen Kandiah, Chief Executive Officer, Hitachi Vantara. “At Hitachi, we believe in the power of data to benefit both business and society. We are immensely proud to partner with Rainforest Connection to make a meaningful difference in the fight against climate change.”