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Latest from the Connected Mangroves reforestation project

How can IoT technologies be used to mitigate climate change, restore livelihoods and combat dwindling bird populations? Find out in our latest update on the Connected Mangroves project.

SCR Program Manager

Connected mangroves

SCR Program Manager

SCR Program Manager

The last time we saw black-faced spoonbills in the Pampanga river in the Philippines was more than 100 years ago.

These coastal birds, found only in East Asia, have been classified as an endangered species since 2000. Owing to the impacts of deforestation, pollution, and man-made industries in what was once their breeding grounds, their populations are predicted to decline even further in the future.

However, in early 2019, the community of Sasmuan in Pampanga was greeted by the sight of three of these endangered species flying over the river.

This area, in particular the Bangkung Malapad islet mangrove forest, is the site of the Connected Mangroves reforestation project between Ericsson, Smart Communications, and the local government unit of Pampanga.

What are Connected Mangroves?

It’s a reforestation project which leverages connected technologies such as solar-powered sensors and real-time camera footage to collect critical data and present it to local communities on a digital dashboard. Initiated in 2017, the project offers the local community a platform to check on water, soil and humidity conditions, and remotely monitor any intrusion on the site.

Since the installation of the sensors, the community’s tourism officer and site manager, Sonjai Salenga, note that they have recorded an increase in the number of migratory birds returning to winter in the area, as well as an increase in the fish catch and better security on the site.

He has also shared how local communities have been inspired by the support given by Ericsson and Smart Communications, and how it is giving them a renewed sense of purpose and hope. The local fishermen, who can face up to twenty typhoons each year, have gained benefits to their livelihood, as they can now monitor the water conditions before they set out to catch fish. This presents a stark difference to past practices when they could not check on water or weather conditions and simply took their chances.

Why are they so important?

Mangrove forests act as natural shields against the elements for coastal communities, such as those in the Philippines and Malaysia.  They also serve as nurseries and habitat for fish and other sea creatures, which often are an important source of food and/or livelihood to the communities near mangrove forests.  The mangroves also have a role to play in mitigating climate change, as their roots trap carbon dioxide.

We began this reforestation project with the intention to see just how far we could go in mangrove restoration efforts by harnessing the power of mobile technology.  Now, from Malaysia to the Philippines, we have living proof that technology can definitely help to ensure that there will be healthy mangrove forests for future generations to enjoy.

Connected mangrove

How can technology be used for reforestation?

Earlier this year, I went to visit Kampung Dato Hormat in Malaysia. Here in 2015, we began our first Connected Mangroves project in the region. Since that day, our employee volunteers from Ericsson Malaysia have planted 3,400 mangroves in the area. When I tried to find the original solar panels for the sensors we had installed here only four years ago, I couldn’t. The reason was that the tiny two-feet tall plants had now become six or seven feet tall, and the thick foliage completely obscured the way to the panel.

Thanks to IoT technologies and the engagement from local communities, universities, NGOs and research institutes, the site has since transformed from a barren field that was overrun with trash from the Bernam river during high tide – to a lush, solid wall of green mangrove trees, with different types and sizes of crabs darting around the roots of the plants.  It was an exciting moment for my fellow volunteers and I – truly a testament to how we have the capability to transform our environment for the better by working with one another and with nature.

Find out more

Learn more about IoT environmental monitoring and how it is helping to revitalize deforestation of the mangrove forests.

Read our latest press release to find out more about our Connected Mangroves in Malaysia.

The Connected Mangroves are also featured in GSMA’s Case for Change initiative.

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