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Using mobile apps to improve the quality of nature conservation in A Luoi Valley

by VanNguyen, February 21, 2019

Forest Protection Staffs of A Luoi PFMB using smartphone to collect information of native species. Photo by VanNguyen, 2019

A Luoi, Vietnam - A Luoi Valley is embedded in forested mountains along the border with Laos. The place is famous about their high biodiversity and conservation values, cover about 60% of Thua Thien Hue's forests. A Luoi Valley is also representative of rural mountainous Central Vietnam which is forming the last biodiversity corridor connecting coastal forests with inland Annamite mountain forests.

While the Nature Reserve and its surrounding forest some 70km from the city, the forests rich in animal and tree species, is increasingly under threats amid global demand for energy and timber resources. These activities often occurs in remote areas far from view, making monitoring and protecting these places difficult even for those working on the ground.

The representative of the A Luoi Protection Forest Management Board (PFMB) said - "...while the forests are better protected, many forest areas still vulnerable and persistently exploited or encroached illegally".

Bringing mobile apps in forest monitoring and conservation action

With emerging advances in technology and big data, since 2015, in Vietnam, several organizations, such as PanNature and WWF Vietnam has demonstrated that mobile technologies can improve the quality of monitor and better management the forests. “With the initiative, we can have intelligence-led patrols and turn the management system from “passive” to “positive”, Dr. Ngo Tri Dung, CORENARM reported. The forest rangers currently no longer go randomly to places but instead know where to look for and positively design the suitable patrol paths as well as easier to make online reports to send to leaders, as Mr. Tien, the leader of Ta Luong Station Forest Protection Team shared.

Engaging forest rangers and forest protection staffs in the scientific research process

Adding one function for this mobile apps initiative, under the FTViet Project, CORENARM in collaboration with Thua Thien Hue Forest Protection and Development Fund organized the training course on using mobile apps for native species management for forest rangers and forest protection staffs from Saola Nature Reserve and A Luoi PFMB.

“We need to know what we have in our forest in order to protect them better. Collecting, managing and using the data from routine daily patrol in one “positive” manner will allow you to design the most appropriate forest management plan, suitable forest patrol routines as well as generate on-the-ground ecological knowledge ” – Dr. Ngo Tri Dung, CORENARM – FTViet Project started the training course.

The training course is designed for 3 days for each state-forest organization, including indoor and outdoor activities as well as the following up reviews and feedbacks. Such initiatives present opportunities in both data management and capacity building, with the potential to use available scientific information to identify native tree species, online databases and smartphones for data collection, data-intensive scientific research and improve quality of nature conservation, which usually ignores in their routine daily patrols.

The FT project expects the initiative will be useful for biodiversity inventory, monitoring as well as individual science projects in the future.

Photo by VanNguyen,2019

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