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Celebrating Earth Day with our growing mangrove trees in Malaysia

April 22 is Earth Day, and the focus of this year’s campaign is environmental and climate literacy, highlighting the issue of deforestation in particular. According to the Earth Day Network, our planet is currently losing over 15 billion trees each year, which is equivalent to 56 acres of forest every minute. Ericsson is committed to finding ways to use our technology to support reforestation projects that will help reverse that trend.

For example, 18 months ago, we set out to help the Malaysian coastal community of Kampung Dato Hormat, Sabak Bernam to reforest their dwindling mangrove forest cover. They were putting a lot of effort into re-planting, but only 30% of the saplings they planted managed to survive and reach maturity. The use of sensors and collaboration program in our Connected Mangroves project allowed the community to see the reasons for the low survival rates, and helped them to adjust the plant conditions to be more conducive to healthy growth.

This Earth Day, we’re pleased to share some photos of how the mangrove saplings we planted in 2015 have grown to a “stable” level, according to GEC, our partner NGO for the project.

They’ve developed from small plants that only had a few leaves and needed support via stakes:

To reach 3-5 feet in height, with lush leaves and a stable root system:

We’re so excited to share these photos because they clearly show how technology and optimized human intervention make it possible to rehabilitate damaged mangroves by increasing the survival rate to reach maturity. The photos of the plant site above show trees that are between 3-5 feet tall, and we are very hopeful that these saplings will continue to grow to their full height at around 10 feet in the months ahead.

To date, we have seen survival and growth rates of up to 80% in the plantation site.

The ability of the local community to quickly access data on the health of the mangrove plantation via the dashboard played a key role in this success. Previously the community could only do visual site checks from time to time on the plantation. Today they can monitor the state of the soil, water, and check for animal intruders (such as monkeys) on the site, using any device that has Internet connectivity.

Now that the community is able to address the mangrove challenge, we would like to look at another challenge being faced by the coastal community – monitoring the quality of the river water in Sabak Bernam. We want to focus on river water quality because rivers are a big part of daily life in Malaysia – both as the source of drinking water and of irrigation for agriculture. Recent data indicates that river water in Malaysia is highly polluted, especially the water in urban rivers that pass though densely populated areas. While rivers are acknowledged as a vital source of life, they are unfortunately also still commonly used as a means of waste disposal.

Towards this end, we’re now working on establishing a pilot project that again combines the Cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile broadband to help local communities, government agencies, researchers and NGOs to better monitor river water quality in Malaysia through the use of sensors.

We look forward to telling you more about this new project in the next few months!

To find out more about Earth Day and how you can get involved in combatting deforestation and other environmental and climate challenges, visit http://www.earthday.org/

Blog authors Supriya Prasannan, Head of Legal, Ericsson Malaysia and Sri Lanka (first from left) and Sebastian Barros, Vice President of Sales, Ericsson Malaysia and Sri Lanka (first from right)

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