by maya m. padillo
An application called LAWIN, or Landscape and Wildlife Indicator, is now being utilized by the com-munity of the municipality of Sta. Cruz in Davao del Sur to monitor kaingin and other environmental threats especially in the area of Mt. Apo.
Launched in March last year by the Depart-ment of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the United States Agency for Interna-tional Development (USAID) in Ilagan City, Isabela, the innovative LAWIN Forest and Bio-diversity Protection Sys-tem is named after the local name of the Philippine Hawk Eagle (Nisaetus philipensis). It applies a science-based approach to protect forests and the wildlife that depends on these.
LAWIN uses five key innovations in forest protection. First, it uses a science-based purpose-driven process for identi-fying conservation areas and hotspots and formu-lating measurable conser-vation objectives for these. Second, it replaces manual recording and encoding of patrol data with a mobile application. Forest pat-rollers can use tablets or smart phones and directly record geo-referenced observations on habitat, wildlife, trees, threats and illegal activities.
CyberTracker, a free open-source software, is used to create the interface for the mobile application. After a patrol is completed, observations are uploaded to a computer using a Spa-tial Monitoring and Repor-ting Tool (SMART) soft-ware for data analysis and mapping.
This fast processing of data leads to LAWIN’s third key innovation: en-hanced coordination bet-ween biodiversity and threats monitoring with environmental law en-forcement.
Fourth, LAWIN enables decision-makers to monitor patrol efforts such as man-power exerted, distance covered, and number of hours spent patrolling. Fifth, it allows for the visualiza-tion of the spatial distribu-tion of observation records and patrol efforts and trends that show the effec-tiveness of the interventions implemented to address the observed threats. Well-informed, community leaders, resource mana-gers, and environmental law enforcers can evaluate and continuously improve their forest conservation strategies.
Sta. Cruz tourism offi-cer Julius Paner told Mirror that they have organized persons who can patrol the Mt. Apo Natural Park using LAWIN tech-nology.
“What makes this tool interesting is that, while patrolling, they discovered new species in flora and fauna. They will then record this in the LAWIN app and then if they find any threats such as kaingin or illegal logging, they will also record them in the app,” Paner said.
He said the data ma-nager will generate reports. Through these, they will determine the problems faced by the natural park. Officials of the Local Government Unit and DENR will be furnished with a copy of the report for them to identify inter-ventions. Patrolling will also be conducted every two months.
Paner said they will also monitor the response of the community where threats are identified, such as illegal logging. They also involved the commu-nity for comprehensive monitoring.
More patrollers will be paid, he added, as a way to sustain the program.
“This is beneficial to the municipality and com-munity of Sta. Cruz in terms of monitoring the biodiversity,” Paner said.