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Illegally logged trees to start calling for help
Jeremy Hance
January 24, 2013

River and forest abuts vast soy field in the Brazilian Amazon. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
River and forest abuts vast soy field in the Brazilian Amazon. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Illegal loggers beware: trees will soon be calling—literally—for backup. The Brazilian government has begun fixing trees with a wireless device, known as Invisible Tracck, which will allow trees to contact authorities after being felled and moved.

Here's how it works: Brazilian authorities fix the Invisible Tracck—smaller than a deck of cards—onto a tree. An illegal logger cuts down the tree and puts it onto a truck for removal, unaware that they are carrying a tracking device. Once Invisible Tracck comes within 20 miles (32 kilometers) of a cellular network it will 'wake up' and send a signal to Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente (IBAMA), who will then be able to track the moving tree to the mill and arrest the criminals at will.

Invisible Tracck was developed by Brazilian technology company, Cargo Tracck, and will be piloted by Dutch security company, Gemalto. The small device has a battery life of a year.

Authorities hopes Invisible Tracck will begun another powerful tool to deter illegal logging. From August 2011-July 2012, deforestation in the Amazon reached a record low in its near quarter century of monitoring. Still, even at its low point the Amazon still lost 1,798 square miles (4,656 square kilometers) of forest in 12 months, an area larger than the size of Rhode Island. By the end of last year, worryingly deforestation had begun to tick up again.

The largest rainforest on Earth, the Amazon is home to an incredible wealth of species and numerous indigenous tribes. The forest is also a vast carbon sink, a major source of freshwater, and has an important impact on regional weather patterns.

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