Using Open Source Software for Forest Protection: B+WISER’s 2017 Digi Award Story

The forest is important for the people. Taking care of the forest and mountains is
not easy. The Philippines has 90 percent forest cover. It is one of the 17 mega-diverse countries
in the world. But the country’s forest cover is dwindling. You have illegal mining, illegal hunting. The people, they go out, they cut trees. They burn forests. Rangers were stationed in fixed checkpoints
to capture illegal product. By that time the damage was already done. Even though they did receive a lot of paper
reports these paper reports were not good for real-time
decision making. There was no way to validate whether those
reports were true accounts. And it was apparent that we needed a better
way to address forest protection. This is how Lawin was born. Lawin is the Tagalog word for the Philippine
Hawk Eagle. Some of the responses have to do with better
enforcement of environmental law but other responses have to do with how to
work with the community, so they can change the destructive behavior
for behavior that is more in line with conservation and protection. During the first year
We trained at least 1,000 community volunteers. Forest rangers are the heart of the forest
protection system. They are the front liners. We conduct our patrolling through Lawin System
and we gather a lot of data, most especially about threats
during the operation activity while enforcing the law. When the Lawin System was introduced,
the forest rangers, including the regular employees of DENR, can now patrol the forest. They can now use their Smartphone’s as tools. Before Lawin, our challenge was we didn’t
have enough resources. We used our personal cellphones. We cannot take photos because they are cheap
cellphones. But with the help of Lawin, we were given
cellphones with cyber tracking and with good cameras that can do direct reporting. We have created a dashboard that helps with
data visualization. So it is easier for the decision maker to
understand what is happening in the field. Through this innovation, this technology,
we are able to speed up the transfer of information. And also, with the aid of technology we can
make a holistic analysis of this information. And so we save resources, and at the same
time the actions are more effective. There are a lot of long-term benefits in the
field of work, especially for the future generations. There are fewer landslides, as well as accidents
in critical areas. We can now say that the forest protection
program is 85-95 percent effective. Forest in many countries stands or falls depending
of the policy the decision makers approve. Today, decision makers at the national, regional,
and local levels can have access to the Lawin data, patrol
data, simultaneously. We moved from covering 240,000 hectares of
natural forest to covering more than 7 million hectares of
natural forest. And this was all done just in a matter of
a few months. I can now describe our mountains as healthy
and improving. The forest is for all of us. That’s why you need to protect it
for all Filipinos.

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