Hitachi Vantara, the digital infrastructure, data management and analytics, and digital solutions subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd., is expanding its partnership with Rainforest Connection to help accelerate data-driven solutions to protect rainforests and their sensitive ecologies. The two organizations will continue developing and scaling predictive analytics to stop illegal logging and start exploring new use cases to protect forest biodiversity. At COP26, Hitachi Vantara and Rainforest Connection will discuss the fundamental role of data-driven solutions for addressing climate change, including how this partnership is helping protect the rainforests in Sumatra, during a November 9th keynote presentation.
The rainforests are the world’s most effective carbon sink, a vital defense against climate change. The world lost 4.2 million hectares of tropical forests in 2020 alone and protecting tropical forests and biodiversity will be a significant part of discussions on meeting 2030 targets at the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference (COP26). Hitachi is a principal sponsor for COP26 in Glasgow.
“The use of data and technology are paramount for businesses and governments to meet sustainability goals,” said Gajen Kandiah, CEO, Hitachi Vantara. “Together, Hitachi Vantara and Rainforest Connection are demonstrating how important a robust ecosystem of partners, along with AI and analytics, are to solve sustainability challenges at a community level and scale to create global change.”
Empowering forest communities: Turning prediction into protection
In Sumatra, the Indonesian government recognizes that forests are vital to economic and environmental safety of the communities and authorizes them to protect local forests from illegal logging. With only a few rangers to patrol large forest areas a few times per month, illegal logging was often discovered after the fact.
Using years of eco-acoustic data collected by Rainforest Connection’s ‘Guardian’ system, Hitachi Vantara developed a baseline of forest sounds and built predictive algorithms and AI to detect anomalies such as voices or disturbed birds flying up, sounds that often precede logging.
“When a global giant like Hitachi Vantara opens its newest, cutting-edge technology to startups like Rainforest Connection that are working at the forefront of social impact and conservation, we can collectively bring about unimaginable, world-changing achievements,” said Topher White, CEO, Rainforest Connection.
The partnership between Hitachi Vantara and Rainforest Connection, along with leadership from local non-governmental organizations like KKI Warsi, can empower local villages with the predictive, data-driven warnings to help stop illegal logging before it starts. Rainforest Connection and KKI Warsi has deployed 27 Guardian devices in 9 Western Sumatran villages.
“Our communities depend on the forests for water, rice farming and protection from landslides. These small villages have the knowledge to protect the forest, but without the technology, they did not have enough resources,” said Rudi Syaf, Executive Director, KKI Warsi. “We want to show that the local communities can partner with the government to manage the forest best and the support from Rainforest Connection and Hitachi Vantara are required to help us do that.”
Partnership building data-driven solutions to protect biodiversity
The scalable cloud and data architecture developed by Hitachi Vantara is also helping Rainforest Connection build regional neural networks that support biodiversity. Rainforest Connection is cataloguing acoustic data from hundreds of species across regions, building a database, and applying AI and Machine Learning to more efficiently analyze and extract actionable insights from these soundscapes which can better inform how best to protect and preserve vulnerable species.
Rainforest Connection’s Guardian system is currently being used in projects in Belize, Costa Rica, Suriname, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, Romania, South Africa, Cameroon, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Italy, Austria, United Kingdom, Chile, Greece, and Ireland