The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Central Luzon office recently received equipment from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Biodiversity and Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Ecosystem Resilience (B+WISER) Program to further boost and advance forest protection and biodiversity conservation in Central Luzon.
According to Francisco Milla, Jr., DENR-3 head, the computers, worth more than half a million, are equipped with upgraded forest and biodiversity protection system, which is the SMART Connect software that will be used in the roll-out of the Lawin Forest and Biodiversity Protection System in the region.
“This upgraded system will synchronize the data gathered from the field by forest protection officers, including threats, forest conditions and indicator species, and will be transmitted on the web or internet server and will be accessible to all levels of forest law enforcement agents (i.e. national, regional, PENRO and CENRO) to ensure that DENR can respond quickly to field reports of threat”, he explained.
He said the system can collect data from the field and share in real time. It can also manage and respond to real time alerts and centrally manages SMART deployment at multiple sites, and can integrate SMART with other system, he added.
Ricardo Calderon, director of DENR-Forest Management Bureau (FMB), said that Central Luzon is one of the pilot regions for the field testing of SMART Connect for Lawin forest and biodiversity system while the other one is the Cagayan de Oro region.
“We are now moving to the next level. Our forest rangers and data managers are already trained in the Lawin forest and biodiversity protection system. And at this stage, we are now providing them advance technology as their weapon to better protect and safeguard our forest and biodiversity”, he said.
It will be recalled that last year, more than 200 forest officers from the DENR Region 3 had undergone skill enhancement training on forest protection through the application of Lawin.
This is in addition to the 2,000 forest rangers that have been trained in Lawin last year covering 18 regions in the country which resulted in the patrolling of more than 6,500 kilometers of forest areas in 170 conservation sites.
Lawin is named after the Philipine hawk eagle, which combines science-based planning, low-cost, collaborative, user friendly technology and indigenous knowledge to protect forest and wildlife. It uses real-time and measurable data that allow environmental law enforcement agencies to act quickly.
SMART Connect for LAWIN system is being supervised by the B+WISER and DENR-FMB with support from USAID.
DENR records show that Central Luzon has 942,387 hectares of forestland, which is thickly covered with 589,489 hectares forests (or 62% forest cover).
Some important plants and animal species that can be found inside these forests include the smallest of the biggest flower or Rafflesia consueloae, the premium species of dipterocarpaceae family, Tapulao mice (Apomys brownorum), largest flying fox (Pteropus vampyrus), giant cloud rat (Phloeomys pallidus) and the endangered Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi).