Today, Sonos (NASDAQ: SONO) announced a new social impact campaign in support of Rainforest Connection, a global nonprofit dedicated to preserving biodiversity around the world. Through a $250,000 donation, Sonos’s Regenerative Sound program is helping support Rainforest Connection’s work in Malaysian Borneo, and other project sites around the world, to leverage sound and artificial intelligence to preserve the planet’s most critical habitats.
“Listening to the vocalizations of orangutans, the chirps of birds, and the murmurations of insects, we can map and protect one of the most biodiverse areas in the world,” said Deji Olukotun, Director of Global Affairs & Sustainability at Sonos. “We’re thrilled to partner with the Rainforest Connection in support of their cutting-edge research. Investing in the protection and conservation of natural resources and wildlife is critical for increasing the planet’s resilience to climate change and preventing irreversible biodiversity loss. With this project, we can truly fulfill our mission to ‘Listen Better.’”
According to a UN Global Land Outlook assessment, as much as 40% of Earth’s land surfaces are considered degraded and more than one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, disappearing at a rate not seen in 10 million years.
“While we humans tend to be visual thinkers, we also possess the ability to connect and communicate through sound, much like numerous other species. I’m thrilled to announce our partnership with Sonos, a company that’s not only a leader in audio technology but also believes in the power of sound to create real change,” said Bourhan Yassin, CEO of Rainforest Connection. “This collaboration is a perfect fit for us, as we share a commitment to using acoustics for the greater good. Together, we’ll strive to safeguard and conserve our planet’s most delicate ecosystems, encompassing not only our own diverse communities but also those of frogs, birds, mammals, insects, and countless other species. By harnessing the power of sound, we can make a meaningful impact on our planet’s future.”
Rainforest Connection’s threat detection system is designed to prevent deforestation, protect endangered species, and preserve the natural habitat of countless animals and plants. The nonprofit builds and deploys Guardians, an acoustic sensor device placed in the treetops of forests, to listen to the sounds of the rainforest 24/7. Each solar-powered device monitors over two square kilometers, an area of land that can be home to over 1,000 different species of plants and animals. Rainforest Connection’s AI can detect the sound of threats, such as illegal logging and poaching, and alerts local rangers on the ground who can take further action.
Protecting biodiversity in Malaysia
A key project that Sonos funds will help support is in the Malaysian state of Sabah, in the northern part of Borneo. “We have a long history of working with manufacturing partners in Malaysia,” Olukotun continued, “Sonos wanted to act locally in support of an initiative close to where our products are built.”
Borneo is known for its rich biodiversity because it is home to thousands of wildlife and plant species. But these species face increasing threats of land degradation and fragmentation due to various agricultural practices. In collaboration with local partner HUTAN, Rainforest Connection is using their acoustic monitoring technology to measure the impacts of reforested agricultural landscapes on local species, which includes the critically endangered orangutan that is endemic to Borneo and Sumatra. Using sound to better understand the dynamic ecology of the region is essential to the long-term conservation of the orangutan and its threatened habitat. Some 3,000 species of trees thrive across Borneo — more than the total number of native species in North America and Europe combined.
“Local communities on the front lines have the most at stake, as they depend on rainforests for food, shelter, and medicine,” said Chrissy Durkin, Rainforest Connection’s Vice President of Growth & Expansion. “It is crucial to develop scalable mechanisms that transform our relationship with nature, fostering harmony and collaboration, while supporting nature’s ability to flourish alongside us.
Moving the needle on climate action
As part of its responsibility to consumers and the planet, Sonos launched its Climate Action Plan in 2021 which serves as a framework to drive the company to carbon neutrality by 2030 and net zero by 2040. In 2023, Sonos released the Sonos Era 100 and Sonos Era 300, featuring post-consumer recycled plastic, better repairability, and lower energy usage, all wrapped in Sonos’s award-winning sustainable packaging. Sonos provides comprehensive updates on its progress and performance as it works to reduce its environmental impact in its annual Listen Better Report.
Sonos launched its Regenerative Sound initiative with a focus on supporting ecoacoustic efforts for environmental conservation, including projects at leading institutions such as the Scripps Acoustic Ecology Laboratory at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego and the K. Lisa Yang Center for Conservation Bioacoustics at Cornell University. Since 2017, Sonos’ signature Soundwaves philanthropy program has donated nearly $2 million in grants to nonprofits in music education, sustainability, and music for healing.