Can technology help rescue nature?

Saving the environment with technology solutions

CreativeCommons Drawing and text by Frits Ahlefeldt

Two rescue robots with a wounded tree
Can Technology help save nature?

Technology is fast gaining terrain on the hiking trails, where new high tech solutions from drones to network connected wildlife cameras, interactive check points, solar powered wells and digital maps are becoming main stream faster than most people imagined just a few years ago. But can all these new fancy gadgets, monitoring and feedback systems be put to good use, not only to help the hikers, but also the environment?

An example from the rain-forest

For many years forest rangers and environmental activists have been trying to stop illegal logging in the dense and loud tropical forests, but without much luck because it has been almost impossible to locate where the loggers were cutting down new trees fast with their chain saws, before it was too late…

That was until what is now known as RainforestConnection.Org ( RFCx.org )  came up with the idea to hook up a simple network of old mobile phones to solar panels, and place them up high up in the canopy, and then use the sensitive microphones on the phones, to pick up and filter out any close or distant sound of chain saws, and send the results live to a computer that could analyse and compare the intensity and direction of the chainsaw sounds,  to precisely pinpoint, in real time, where the illegal logging took place and send the exact GPS coordinates to the local Forest Rangers.   Something that made it possible for the rangers to head out to stop the activities immediately and much more efficient

Neither technology Or people – but together… Yes

The above is an good example of how neither technology or people can save nature alone – but together, using smart new ways of solving the challenges, it is possible to make a difference by doing things in new, smarter and technology enabled ways, that make the best use of both human and digital strengths, by optimizing them to work together

Could hikers become more active in saving the environment, simply by walking?

There still need to be developed better and smarter digital systems, like the one by RainForestConnection, to make hiking and saving the environment work more together, but there is a great potential in this for many reasons. We just need to figure out how exactly to make walking part of creating trails to a better future in new (digital enabled ) ways

Some of the things new systems combining technology, hiking and helping nature might be designed to do:

  • Make the hiking trail network function better as green biodiversity corridors for other species
  • Help stop / prevent destructive motorized traffic on the trails
  • Better monitor and support / guide hikers along the trails for optimized experience and minimized impact on fragile environments
  • Dynamically adjust hiking routes to take into account things like: extreme weather warnings, flooding, endangered species, resource availability, broken bridges, river crossings, personal preferences and physical shape etc.
  • Help hikers report trail sectors in need of repair to trail-rangers and support centers
  • Help hikers and locals along the trails better understand the eco-systems and give them options of becoming ambassadors and caretakers of the biodiversity and habitats connected by the hiking trails

There are many more options than these for how hiking might be connected to saving the environment in more active ways, through the use of technology. And here on Hiking.org smart use of technology is one of the things that will be in focus to discuss and understand new ways for hikers to build a better relationship with nature.

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