PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications and Ericsson have formalized an agreement to develop an Internet of Things (IoT) solution to help in the protection and conservation of mangroves in the Philippines.
Under the agreement, Smart will be the exclusive mobile network partner of Ericsson for a potential Connected Mangroves project, which 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 and farmers.
The project was initiated by Ericsson in Malaysia, where mangroves are a vital part of the ecosystem. However, illegal logging, fires, pollution and sea farms, among other hazards, have reduced mangrove coverage by more than 85% in the last ten years. The project has shown great success, with mangroves reaching maturity increasing from 20-40% prior to the project to 70-80% after its implementation.
“It is very important for this Connected Mangroves project that we have coverage, and Smart has been our prime partner in the Philippines for various projects,” said Sean Gowran, head of Ericsson Philippines. “By helping to improve the health of mangroves, we reinforce protection for the coastline, increase and help conserve the biodiversity of the marine population, and benefit the local community.”
“This project can help farmers and authorities track the growth of the mangroves,” said Ramon R. Isberto, head of PLDT and Smart public affairs. “It can also help residents in other areas who may be affected by flooding and other environmental threats. Since the Philippines faces a lot of typhoons every year, it is important to make efforts to mitigate the effects of these weather disturbances.”
Mangrove forests help protect seaside communities from typhoons, flooding, erosion and other coastal hazards, and is the habitat of various aquatic life forms. However, it is estimated that only 20% of the planted mangroves reach adult stage due to various environmental risks.
Both partners will be assessing the viability of different mangrove forest locations for the project in the next few weeks.