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Home » When a Tree Calls for Help: Topher White at TEDxCERN (Full Transcript)

When a Tree Calls for Help: Topher White at TEDxCERN (Full Transcript)

Topher White – TRANSCRIPT

(Forest noises) In the summer of 2011, as a tourist, I visited the rainforests of Borneo for the very first time, and as you might imagine, it was the overwhelming sounds of the forest that struck me the most. There’s this constant cacophony of noise.

Some things actually do stick out. For example, this here is a big bird, a rhinoceros hornbill. This buzzing is a cicada. (Forest sounds) This is a family of gibbons. It’s actually singing to each other over a great distance.

The place where this was recorded was in fact a gibbon reserve, which is why you can hear so many of them, but in fact the most important noise that was coming out of the forest that time was one that I didn’t notice, and in fact nobody there had actually noticed it. So, as I said, this was a gibbon reserve. They spend most of their time rehabilitating gibbons, these cute apes that you also just heard a few minutes ago. But in fact, what I didn’t realize when I got there, was that they also have to spend a lot of their time protecting their area from illegal logging that takes place on the side. And so if we take the sound of the forest and we actually turn down the gibbons, the insects, and the rest, as you’re hearing now, in the background, the entire time, in recordings you heard, was the sound of a chainsaw at great distance.

And in fact, as I said, these guards were there – They had three full-time guards who were posted around this sanctuary whose job was in fact to guard against illegal logging, and one day, we went walking, again as tourists, out into the forest, and within five minutes’ walk, we stumbled upon somebody who was just sawing a tree down, five minutes’ walk, a few hundred meters from the ranger station. They hadn’t been able to hear the chainsaws, because as you heard, the forest is very, very loud. It struck me as quite unacceptable that in this modern time, just a few hundred meters away from a ranger station in a sanctuary, that in fact nobody could hear it when someone who has a chainsaw gets fired up. It sounds impossible, but in fact, it was quite true. However, I did want to set out and try and find a way to work on helping them, because again, they were there, they wanted to protect the reserve.

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