Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Malaysian mangrove IoT project wins UN award

AvantiKumar | Oct. 18, 2016
Sensors use near real-time information to preserve dwindling mangrove plantations.

Connected Mangrove project - planting saplings

Photo (UN) - Connected Mangrove project - planting saplings


A technology project in Malaysia, which uses sensors to provide near real-time information to preserve dwindling mangrove plantations, has won a United Nations (UN) climate change award.

The Connected Mangrove initiative, which will be featured at UN's Climate Conference in Marrakech, Morocco (7-18 November 2016), is one of 13 projects distinguished by the UN international advisory panel.

Described as the first of its kind in the world, the project combines cloud, machine-to-machine and mobile broadband to help the local community in Selangor, Malaysia, to better manage the growth of new mangrove saplings.

An important aspect of Malaysia's ecosystem, mangroves help to protect villages along coastlines and river banks from environmental risks. The mangrove has also been described as one of the most effective trees to absorb the carbon dioxide that generates dangerous climate change.

"To avert dangerous tipping points in the climate system, global emissions must peak as soon as possible and then be driven down drastically," said Nick Nuttall, spokesperson for non-governmental organisation (NGO) UNFCCC.

Vital balance

"A balance must be achieved in the second half of this century between global emissions and removals through sequestration into ecosystems or through other means," said Nuttall.

"Mangroves are a key natural ally in this objective and this project shows what a smart approach can do to conserve, restore and expand these crucial nature-based services," he said.

The project includes volunteers planting mangrove saplings, which have been equipped with sensors to monitor real-time information about soil and weather conditions, fires, water levels and any intrusion from third parties to ensure positive growth and rehabilitation of eroded coastlines.

This data is then compiled and sent to a cloud system where users, to help farmers, NGOs, analysts and authorities better understand the ongoing status of the saplings,

Connected Mangrove Device view

Photo (UN  ) - Connected Mangrove Device view 

Nuttall said The Momentum for Change initiative is spearheaded by the UNFCCC secretariat "to shine a light on some of the most innovative, scalable and replicable examples of what people are doing to address climate change."

Mangrove reduction reversed

Illegal logging, fire, soil pollution and fish farming have contributed to the reduction of mangrove cover by half in the past 10 years and this must be reversed," he said.

Mangrove forests are ecosystems that lie at the confluence of freshwater rivers and salty seas, said Nuttall. While they make up only 0.7 percent of the world's forests, they have the ultimate potential to store about 2.5 times as much carbon dioxide as humans produce globally each year, if their growth is heavily revived.

Phase 1 of the project was a pilot of 200 seedlings while Phase 2 will have 1,000 seedlings. The team's goal is to plant a total of 10,000 seedlings.

Only 40 percent of mangrove saplings have been able to reach maturity in recent years, according to the NGO.

However, pilot results from the project show an improvement of 50 percent in their mortality rate. This means that with the 'Connected Mangrove approach', for every 1,000 saplings, about 700 or more could reach adulthood than normally would be the case.

Todd Ashton, president of Ericsson Malaysia and Sri Lanka, the telecommunications firm that rolled out the sensor technology, said, "The Connected Mangroves project addresses the need to protect an important part of the ecosystem of the nearly 3,000 miles of coastline in Malaysia."

"By combining ICT with collaborative partnerships, we now see a higher percentage of the mangrove saplings will most likely reach maturity," said Ashton, echoing national researc agency MIMOS' call to use IoT across industries. "In addition, through this Internet of Things (IoT) solution, the community has been empowered to use data to manage their environment and take action to support the mangroves - and their community - to thrive."

The 'Connected Mangroves' project was awarded under the Momentum for Change ICT Solutions. The 2016 Lighthouse Activities were selected by an international advisory panel as part of the secretariat's Momentum for Change initiative, which operates in partnership with the World Economic Forum Global Project on Climate Change and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative.


Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.