Indonesia: Saving forests via smartphone
Indonesia’s mangroves protect the climate and provide a livelihood for many people. Mangrove conservation needs everyone’s support.
Digital solutions for climate action are a declared objective of Indonesia’s Digital Transformation Centre, set up by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ has been working locally using digital tools to improve resilience and conservation in the natural environment. The focus is particularly on the country’s extensive mangrove forests, which clean the water, store large volumes of CO2 and maintain the soil around them.
In northern Indonesia, the waters of the mangrove areas provide a livelihood for the many people who farm seagrass and shrimp. However, increasing use of the ecosystem is causing a deterioration in soil and water quality, adding to pressures on the mangrove forests and leading to their disappearance. And yet agriculture needs these plants to survive. A solution to protect them has now been created in the form of a digital smartphone app.
Understanding in order to act
GIZ developed the mobile app in collaboration with the GSMA Mobile Innovation Hub and Indosat Oreedoo Hutchison, a local mobile communications provider. It allows people living in the affected areas to collect data on water quality, for example, or the condition of the forests. Users simply record their observations on their smartphone and mark the location. Software analyses the data collected and creates a digital map. This provides a clear indication of where targeted help is needed.
The data stored in the app provide knowledge for the local government. At the same time, the app raises awareness among people living in these areas of the need to conserve mangroves as part of their environment. As Rambli, a community leader of Setabu in northern Indonesia, explains: ‘We can now keep a closer eye on our seas and mangroves.’ And Philippe Bellordre, Head of Operations at GSMA Mobile4Development, adds: ‘The conclusions we draw are invaluable and provide key information for many different countries and contexts. Protecting the forests is a global challenge that is essential in many coastal communities.’