Foresters to step up conservation efforts through use of real-time data

Monitoring forest coverage, wildlife population and illegal poaching and logging activities is expected to get better. The Department of Forest and Park Services will soon be using an online system called SMART Connect for the cause. To ensure effective use of the system, foresters and officials from the Department of Forest and Park Services are undergoing six-day training in the capital. The World Wildlife Fund is providing technical assistance.

SMART stands for Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool. SMART Connect refers to the technique of receiving and sending patrol data in real-time. It will also help in determining the time required for rangers while on patrol and in sending immediate assistance if they face any form of disaster or danger.

“The main reason for running well is because firstly, with the aid from the WWF; we have conservation law enforcement, when it comes to law enforcement, be it illegal logging, killing animals or poaching, those acts, to know when and where it happens, it was started to monitor these acts,” said Kinga Norbu, Senior Forestry Officer of Department of Forest and Park Services.

The WWF Bhutan first started using SMART system in patrolling in 2013. However, the foresters had to collect data and send it through email to the head of the department and park offices which was time-consuming and required huge resources.

So, through SMART Connect they will be able to update real-time data which can be accessed by focal persons in respective park and range offices. This is expected to ensure proper allocation of resources and help in decision-making.

“Bhutan is one of the best case studies of effective SMART implementation in the world and now we are hoping to move to the next step, moving to mostly online system through SMART connect. Whereas data is getting to the international level much more quickly, more efficiently so they can use the information to make decisions on the ground,” said Alexander Wyatt, Wildlife Crime Program Coordinator of Cambodia.

Initially developed as a law enforcement tool and piloted in a few sites, SMART is now active in over 1200 sites across the country. According to the Department of Forests and Park Services, between July 2020 and June 2022, the country reported over 380 cases of illegal fishing and close to 160 cases of poaching.

Tshering Deki

Edited by Phub Gyem

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