Just four months after fully funding his Pono Music campaign via KickStarter, Neil Young has turned his attention to an even more worthwhile cause: saving the rainforest. He’s teamed up with Rainforest Connection to help them raise much-needed funds. “[This] is a technology that’s a connection between the rainforest and you,” says Young. “This technology enables the forest to talk to the world. When the forest is threatened, the forest can speak and you can hear it.”
The central idea behind Rainforest Connection is as simple as it is brilliant: Old cellphones are retrofitted with a solar-powered energy source and placed in trees around the rainforest. When they pick up the sound of chainsaws, animals in distress or gunshots, they alert authorities in real time. “Current detection systems rely on satellites which show rainforest destruction days or weeks too late,” says a note on the group’s Kickstarter page. “Our system provides the world’s first real-time logging/poaching detection system. We can pinpoint deforestation activity the moment it begins, while simultaneously streaming the data openly and immediately to anyone around the world.”
Young sent out a letter to Pono supporters asking them to contribute, and he appears in a video on behalf of Rainforest Connection. “Neil’s involvement makes perfect sense,” says Topher White, the physicist and engineer beyond Rainforest Connection. “Throughout his life, he has always been a passionate crusader for indigenous rights, and in recent years, has worked tirelessly in combating climate change. These are both issues that we directly address with the Rainforest Connection technology.”
If Rainforest Connection reaches their fundraising goals, they will be able to help the Tembé indigenous people of Brazil fight black market illegal logging operations. They also hope to place their system in trees all across Indonesia.
Young has devoted much of his time in recent years to environmental causes. In addition to his LincVolt electric car project, he launched his Honor The Treaties across Canada earlier this year, raising awareness for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) Legal Defense Fund. He is currently on a European tour with Crazy Horse, and this fall, he is resuming his solo acoustic tour of American theaters.