back to article Amazon rainforest starts making phone calls

Trees in Brazil are being fitted with mobile telephones so they can call for help when they're cut down, alerting the authorities to illegal logging as soon as the logs get into range. The Invisible Tracck is the size of a fag packet, and battery-powered, so it can be hidden in the branches of a tree and automatically …


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  1. LarsG

    And how many trees are there in the Amazon?

    And how much does one of these things cost?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      By the time the alarm goes off....... Too late.

    2. James Micallef Silver badge

      "how many trees are there in the Amazon?"

      Presumably loggers work around the edges as they can't teleport heavy equipemnt right into the middle of the jungle. Also they would tend to chop down all the trees in a given area, not randomly or selectively chop only a few trees. So putting the boxes on a distributed sample of trees (even 1 / 1000 or even more) around the edges of the forest will work quite well. No need to bug every single tree.

      Of course, that is still a f***load of trees

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Whoever said to put one on every tree... if someone is logging thousands of trees you could put one every square mile and it would be enough.

  2. Michael Dean

    If a tree falls ...

    We can argue about the noise but, it will make a ring

  3. Sceptic Tank Bronze badge

    Call me when you're around

    So is this what one would refer to as a "trunk call"?

  4. wowfood


    I knew amazon was big, but I didn't know they owned their own rainforest.

    1. Adam Foxton

      Re: wow

      Of course they have their own rainforest, it's where they manufacture the paper for their books!

  5. Knoydart

    Surprised the tree does not tweet too once it is in range, or at least facebook friend the illegal loggers as it gets coverage.

    itree has probably already been trademarked by those at Apple.

  6. JaitcH

    so it can be hidden in the branches of a tree and automatically activated when the tree is felled

    Usually the first thing loggers do when they fell a tree is to strip the branches off so they can get more logs (tree trunks) on to a truck.

    Hope they have a better place to hide them!

    1. Kevin Johnston

      Re: @JaitcH

      Darn it...beaten to the punch by mere seconds

    2. JDX Gold badge

      It might be suggested the people who developed the system know a bit about logging.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I would imagine that if the branches to which the device was attached (or where it was hid) got cut down the machine would still drop, thus still generating the momentum required to "phone home".

      And I highly doubt that loggers would be willing to invest in "tree studies". If the device can be hidden enough so it won't be easily noticeable when hanging in the tree I'd say its still mission well done.

  7. Kevin Johnston

    I am not a lumberjack but.....

    I was under the impression that all the branches got removed before the trunk was cut into manageable sized chunks and loaded onto a lorry. If they hide these amongst the branches they will be left on the forest floor surely?

    1. Marlons

      Re: I am not a lumberjack but.....

      I guess that it'll alert the authorities to respond quick enough that the will go to the signal location in the hope the loggers are still there thus proving they did and apprehending them.

      1. handle

        Re: I am not a lumberjack but.....

        It won't matter if they're left on the forest floor - the point is that they call home when they can, and so the logging can be detected, even if the culprits aren't caught red-handed.

        What's unfortunate is that the radio range would be much better before the tree was chopped down!

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

          Re: I am not a lumberjack but.....

          I think the key point was that if they were hidden on the trees when in transit, once they got nearer to the mill (and the town around it) then they'd be in radio-range and so could call out. But as noted if they are in the branches and those are cut off, the beacon still sits there on the forest floor amongst the debris whilst the tree itself is carted off.

          Yes it's active, but as it's not going anywhere the chances are it'll be out of radio range (presuming they weren't felling trees within about 20 miles of the mill town or other radio receiver) hence it'll be happily active and looking to call out for help on a radio that isn't connected to anything.

          But as a concept it's a nice idea (and one well worth supporting), and I guess if they could daisychain and act as relays to other such devices, then even the range issue could be overcome.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If it were me...

    “The Invisible Tracck should run for a year or so before needing fresh batteries”

    Really? Given the Brazilian rain forest climate... I'd use energy scavenging devices like solar/thermo, or piezo generators powered by the tree swaying in the wind as a reliable long term power source.

    You could also create a cheap mesh network using low power radio technology like Zigbee... so trees automatically connected to others in the vicinity to relay health signals via a communications hub as/when they were in range of others.

    Sometimes the distinction between the GSM network and the forest isn’t so clear cut...

  9. Robert Helpmann??

    Never 100%

    While it is impossible to achieve 100% enforcement, the point is that this provides a cost-effective method (or portion thereof) to discourage potential thieves.

  10. etabeta

    1 year battery lifetime?

    1 year battery lifetime seems somewhat lame to me. They could get a 10+ year lifetime by using a simple mercury tilt switch to power on the device only when the tree is not vertical, and a long-life lithium/thionyl chloride battery.

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