AWS Public Sector Blog

It’s the Air You Breathe: How One Nonprofit is Saving the Trees and So Much More

Listen closely… can you hear the rainforest?

Rainforest Connection is a 501c3 that creates technology to empower protectors of the rainforest who wish to end illegal deforestation in real-time.

But, when a tree falls in the forest, how many people are around to hear it? A quick look at the facts shows why this issue is relevant to anyone reading this post.

It’s about the quality of the air we all breathe. When you cut down a tree in the rainforest, carbon stored for hundreds of years releases back into the atmosphere. And when you prevent logging in one square mile of the forest, it saves 15,000 tons of carbon from releasing back into the atmosphere.

This is all according to the work and research of COO Bourhan Yassin and his team at Rainforest Connection. He joined us in a recent podcast episode to talk about what it means to effectively take 3,000 cars off the road each year by preserving the forest. He describes their technique of listening to the forest soundscape, which begins with scaling trees 150 feet in the air.

Yassin and his team physically attach upcycled, solar-powered cellphones, enclosed in weatherproofed casing, to these trees to record the soundscape. Data uploads to the cloud where machine learning and artificial intelligence work to root out sounds that don’t belong – such as chainsaws, as you’ll hear at the top of the episode. They then alert teams who are boots-on-the ground to intervene in near-real-time.

If you’re still grappling with the need to save the trees, Yassin warns that global carbon emissions from deforestation is greater than all transportation emissions combined, and the remaining forest could disappear in less than 40 years. This could mean a change in our air quality sooner than we think.

The good news: Yassin says there are ways for listeners to get involved – from the food you buy to downloading the Rainforest Connection app. Livestream the soundscape from your mobile device and become a part of the protection team that’s helping to save the rainforest.

AWS Public Sector Blog Team

AWS Public Sector Blog Team

Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, the AWS Public Sector blog team writes for the government, education, and nonprofit sector around the globe. Learn more about AWS for the public sector by visiting our website (, or following us on Twitter (@AWS_gov, @AWS_edu, and @AWS_Nonprofits).