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Smart, Ericsson partner to protect critical habitat

by Smart Communications Inc. | Dec 12, 2017
[12 December 2017, Sasmuan, Pampanga] PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications Inc. and Ericsson recently launched the Connected Mangroves project to help conserve the marine ecosystem of the Bangkung Malapad critical habitat and ecotourism area in Sasmuan, Pampanga.

Smart is the exclusive mobile network partner of Ericsson for this Internet of Things (IoT) project, the first of its kind to be implemented in the Philippines. This IoT solution uses wireless connectivity to capture data relevant to mangroves’ survival such as water level, humidity, soil moisture and temperature, and other hazards in the environment.

The information, which is collected by waterproof solar-powered sensors attached to mangroves, will be transmitted over a cloud system to a dashboard accessible to concerned stakeholders, such as local authorities, fisherfolk and communities within the area.

Mangrove forests are important in the protection of seaside communities from typhoons, flooding, erosion and other coastal hazards, and serve as habitat for various aquatic life forms. Scientists, however, say that in the last five decades, an estimated 50 percent of the world’s mangroves has disappeared, and every year another one percent is lost, based on information by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The Sasmuan Bangkung Malapad critical habitat and ecotourism area (SBMCHEA) is home to several mangrove species and other flora and fauna. With its rich biodiversity, good climate and strategic location, the site also hosts more than 80 species of birds migrating from winter countries. The area is also seen as a critical source of oxygen for the Manila Bay, according to the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-BMB).

The globally recognized Connected Mangroves project was initiated by Ericsson in Malaysia, where threats such as illegal logging, fires, pollution and sea farms, have significantly reduced mangrove coverage over the past 10 years. The project has achieved great success, with 70-80 percent of the mangroves now reaching maturity compared with only 20-40 percent that reached adulthood prior to the project.

Martin Wiktorin, head of Ericsson Philippines and Pacific Islands, Singapore and Brunei, said: “We are pleased to launch this project in the Philippines with Smart and the local government unit of Sasmuan, Pampanga. As a leading advocate of ‘Technology for Good,’ this project exemplifies how we use ICT and IoT technology to address global issues, such as climate change. Technology can help create a positive impact, as we have seen in the case of our Connected Mangroves project in Malaysia. There is tremendous potential in adapting this project for applications in areas like agriculture or aquaculture.”

PLDT and Smart public affairs head Ramon R. Isberto pointed out the role of tech partnerships in helping the cause of environmental protection. “This solution provided by Ericsson, with the help of Smart’s connectivity, can help fisherfolk and local authorities track data on the mangroves. This information may be utilized to alleviate the condition in the area, and it can also be used a guide in policymaking,” he said.

As a responsible corporate citizen, Smart is committed to strengthening community service initiatives on various fronts. The company’s “Technology for Development” initiatives include mangrove conservation and protection as part of its environmental, livelihood, and disaster preparedness programs.