Ericsson mangrove boosting project in Malaysia wins prestigious UN award

Trailblazing Initiative to be Honoured at UN Climate Conference in Marrakech.

(Bonn, Germany, 29 September 2016) – A ground-breaking technology project in Malaysia and initiated by telecommunications firm Ericsson that uses sensors to provide near real-time information to restore dwindling mangrove plantations was announced today as one of 13 winners of a United Nations climate change award.

Ericsson’s Connected Mangroves project, the first of its kind in the world, combines cloud, machine-to-machine and mobile broadband to help the local community in Selangor, Malaysia, to better manage the growth of new mangrove saplings.

Volunteers planted mangrove saplings that have been equipped with sensors that can monitor real-time information about soil and weather conditions, fires, water levels and any intrusion from third parties to ensure positive growth and rehabilitation of eroded coastlines. Data is compiled and sent directly to a cloud system where users, such as farmers, NGOs, analysts and authorities, can have access to it to understand more about the current status of the saplings.

The Connected Mangroves project addresses the need to protect an important part of the ecosystem of the nearly 3,000 miles of coastline in Malaysia. By combining ICT innovation with collaborative partnerships that are built on a shared vision, we now see a higher percentage of the mangrove saplings will most likely reach maturity. In addition, through this Internet of Things (IoT) solution, the community has been empowered to use data to manage their environment and take action to support the mangroves – and their community – to thrive,” said Todd Ashton, Head of Ericsson Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

Mangroves are a vital part of Malaysia’s ecosystem, protecting villages near coastlines and river banks from environmental risks and they are one of the most effective trees in the world for soaking up the carbon dioxide that generates dangerous climate change.

“To avert dangerous tipping points in the climate system, global emissions must peak as soon as possible and then be driven down drastically. A balance must be achieved in the second half of this century between global emissions and removals through sequestration into ecosystems or through other means. Mangroves are a key natural ally in this objective and this project shows what a smart approach can do to conserve, restore and expand these crucial nature-based services,” said Nick Nuttall, UNFCCC Spokesperson.

The Momentum for Change initiative is spearheaded by the UNFCCC secretariat to shine a light on some of the most innovative, scalable and replicable examples of what people are doing to address climate change. Today’s announcement is part of wider efforts to mobilize action and ambition as national governments work to implement the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Illegal logging, fire, soil pollution and fish farming has cut mangrove cover by half in the past 10 years and this must be reversed. Mangrove forests are ecosystems that lie at the confluence of freshwater rivers and salty seas. While they make up only 0.7 percent of the world's forests, they have the ultimate potential to store about 2.5 times as much carbon dioxide as humans produce globally each year, if their growth is heavily revived.

NGO estimates show that only 40% of mangrove saplings have been able to reach maturity in recent years. But pilot results from the project show an improvement of 50% in their mortality rate. This implies that with the “Connected Mangrove” approach, for every 1,000 saplings, around 700 or more could reach adulthood than normally would be the case.

Phase 1 of the project involved a pilot of 200 seedlings and Phase 2 will have 1,000 seedlings. The team’s ambition is to plant a total of 10,000 seedlings.

The “Connected Mangroves” project was awarded under the Momentum for Change ICT Solutions focus area because it is a shining example of how ICT and mobility can be used together to restore dwindling mangrove plantations and thus help absorb carbon emissions while protecting residents from natural disasters such as flooding.

Together with the other winning projects, it will be showcased at a series of special events during the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech, Morocco (7-18 November 2016).

The 2016 Lighthouse Activities were selected by an international advisory panel as part of the secretariat’s Momentum for Change initiative, which operates in partnership with the World Economic Forum Global Project on Climate Change and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative.

Please note: A full list of winners and more information about each of the 2016 Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activities can be found here.

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For more information, please contact:

Ericsson Corporate Communications
Phone: +46 10 719 69 92
Sarah Marchildon, UNFCCC Communications Officer
+49 228 815 1065