I love daring activities, the more curious the better; night scuba diving, active volcano research, the highest bungee jump, flying trapeze. Which is why the first time I saw someone climb 40 meters into the uncharted and bizarre Amazon Rainforest canopy to set-up a research camera, my first thought was: I want to do that.
Picture my delight now, as I’m working with the Arribada Initiative on the improvement of those same research cameras I witnessed being lifted into the trees a year before.
Arribada developed these research cameras, called the Arboreal Monitoring Platform, as a response to conservations’ call for more tree top tech. Over the last three decades, researchers have discovered the importance of canopies as biodiversity hotspots, housing half or more of the worlds species. They are also powerful indicators and players in global climate, supporting a wealth of plants exchanging CO2 and water with the atmosphere. Recent developments of powerful, miniaturized cameras, microphones and computer boards now allow monitoring of this ecosystem on ever larger scales, helping conservation scientists learn more of their vital role in global climate change and biodiversity preservation.
Arribada wants to continue developing and enhancing tree-friendly monitoring systems to fuel this new research. And what better way to test how our arboreal tech operates off the ground than getting into the trees ourselves?
I jumped at the chance and I found myself gleefully suspended from a rope 40 meters up in the Costa Rican rainforest canopy, fulfilling my wish to tree climb.
More than achieving a personal ambition, climbing trees as part of Arribada will allow us to test our arboreal equipment up in the trees before it is placed in the field. Designs can be improved to allow for easy handling in the trees. After all, installation and maintenance are different hanging from a rope than with your feet on the ground. During field expeditions, a tree climber who understands the equipment will be faster and more effective with placement, installation and maintenance. With more experience, Arribada also hopes to assist partners in the field decide the best placement array of tree tech for their project goals.
My aspiration to be high into the trees may have started for entertainment, but it’s turned into more. Not only do I get to experience the thrill and beauty of the high canopy, I can help others uncover the life and importance of this hidden world. And that makes the climb all the more exciting.