Screaming Trees is the name of the project that was initiated for testing purposes in May 2017 in a forest in Covasna county, in central Romania
At the first sound of a chainsaw, trees are starting to cry out for help. No, it's not a science fiction scenario. It's a technology that is being applied in Romania as well. Screaming Trees is the name of the project that was initiated for testing purposes in May 2017 in a forest in Covasna county, in central Romania. Romania thus became the first country in Europe where this technology, created by the American start-up Rainforest Connection, a partner of Agent Green, is being implemented, as Gabriel Paun, the initiator of the project and the president of the Agent Green NGO told Radio Romania:
"The idea emerged out of a sad reality: in Romania wood is stolen, trees are cut illegally. Unfortunately, we are one of the countries on this planet where forests need to be guarded, because wood is stolen. This is not something new. The novelty would be to try to work out solutions to that problem. Solutions that should be accessible from a technological point of view."
Romanian biologist and ecologist Gabriel Paun was the guest of a previous RRI show several years ago, when he was awarded the Euronatur 2016 prize for his involvement in the protection of forests. The prize, which is not a material prize, honors an extraordinary commitment to preserving nature, and it was previously granted to Prince Charles, Nelson Mandela and the former Soviet leader Gorbachev. Gabriel Paun has run several national and international campaigns aimed at protecting nature and animals:
"I used to be a very shy guy. And I had to make my voice heard. Given the needs of the environment, which is the support of our lives, I had to make my voice heard."
For many years, Gabriel Paun has been fighting with determination against the inertia and the evil intentions of those who don't care about the environment. Congo, Indonesia and Romania are countries where the Screaming Trees technology is needed to protect forests. Let's find out more from Gabriel Paun, the initiator of the Screaming Trees project and the president of the Agent Green NGO.
"Romania is the first country in the world with a temperate climate where this technology has been tested. The technology was previously used by our partners, Rainforest Connection, only in tropical forests, in countries where wood is stolen. I am talking about the tropical forests in the Amazon, in Congo and Indonesia where there are big problems with the last old-growth forests, just like in Romania, actually. Things were easier in those areas which do not have a cold season like Romania."
Thanks to smart phones placed in the trees, the forest comes alive and starts alerting everybody to the sound of chainsaw, truck trailers or gunshots. As for the alarm system, it passed the test of the first winter in Romania with flying colors.
"We worked together with a couple of engineers from California as we wanted to perfect a technology, seemingly simple at first glance, but which is not that simple. What we did was to take a couple of already used smart phones, place them as high as we could in the trees, where the signal is a little bit clearer than the signal at ground level, so that sunrays could reach them and charge the chargers, in order for the phones to have energy all year round. And these devices have amplifiers as well as some extra antennas, to capture as much of the signal as possible. Actually they are just some terminals, there is a program for their support, created by those engineers from California, enabling the microphone of the cell-phone to capture the sounds it was designed to capture. One terminal alone can cover one square kilometer, which is quite a large surface area, given there's just one device.
A couple of dozens of Screaming Trees devices are today going through the testing period in two forests in Covasna county, which was made possible thanks to donations and volunteer work. At the moment, there is a volunteer in each of the two forests where the system is being tested. The volunteer receives the alarm and tries to avoid illegal action. Here is what Gabriel Paun also told us, in this respect.
"There is a local working for us there, one we can trust, who takes off as soon as an alert has been issued, and seeks to avoid conflicts with thieves, who have no idea where our ranger had come in from. Prevention, that's what's marvelous about the project. It is a project aimed at preventing forest crime, or a crime against wild animals, before it is perpetrated. That's the extraordinary part of the project. Ensuring prevention, with so simple a technology."
Depending on funding, the initiators would like to extend the project and collaborate with the line authorities. Here is Gabriel Paun once again:
"The next step we want to take is to conclude a protocol with the Environment Ministry, the Forest Guard and the Environmental Guard, because the funds we want to raise should be enough for us to cover all virgin forests in the national Catalogue. We want to see protected all the forests on the UNESCO heritage list and all strictly protected areas in Natural and National Parks, as there, the sound of a chainsaw should never be heard
According to the Agent Green NGO, in Romania, 38 million cubic meters of wood are cut each year, which is 20 million more than the officially admitted quota.