Smart, Ericsson ink partnership to protect mangroves

PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications and Ericsson recently formalized an agreement to develop an Internet of Things solution to help in the protection and conservation of mangroves in the Philippines.

Smart and Ericsson officials sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the Connected Mangroves project in the Philippines.

Signing the MOU are Smart Vice President and Head of Technical Operations Center Pierre de los Reyes, PLDT-Smart Public Affairs Head Ramon Isberto, PLDT-Smart Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering Mario Tamayo, Ericsson Country Unit Head Sean Gowran and Ericsson Vice President and Key Account Manager Anthony Valdez.

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 globally recognized 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 percent in the last 10 years. The project has shown great success, with mangroves that reach maturity increasing from 20 percent to 40 percent prior to the project to 70 percent to 80 percent 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,” Gowran said. “By helping 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,” Isberto said. “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 percent 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.

Smart supports mangrove conservation and protection as part of its environmental, livelihood and disaster-preparedness initiatives.