THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it will adopt a US-funded system to track the activities of environmental inspectors on the resort island of Boracay.
It said the system is known as the Lawin Forest and Biodiversity Protection System.
Lawin was introduced to the Philippines through the Biodiversity and Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Ecosystem Resilience (B+Wiser) Program of the DENR, in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which is about to be completed this year.
According to DENR Assistant Secretary Corazon C. Davis, the program will be continued by the national government as it is funded under the P800 million appropriation for forest protection under the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
“The program will not end because it has gone mainstream. It will be continued and in fact, it has been adopted by the Department,” Ms. Davis told reporters in Pasay City.
“We are looking at the technology not only for biodiversity and forest protection, but also for pollution control. We are reviewing how to apply the system,” Ms. Davis added.
Boracay is scheduled to re-open on Oct. 26, after it was closed for six months for rehabilitation due to severe water pollution.
Alongside upgrades to the system of removing solid waste from the island, the government imposed limits on tourist numbers and required beachfront hotels to have their own water treatment systems.
Lawin allows inspectors to use tablets or smart phones to directly record geo-referenced observations on habitat, wildlife, trees, threats and illegal activities, which will be uploaded for data analysis and mapping.
Lawin also records the number of hours inspectors are on patrol, the effort exerted and the distance covered.
“We, the national government through the DENR, decided to mainstream and institutionalize this technology in all the programs of the DENR,” Ms. Davis said.
According to Ms. Davis, every foreign-assisted project is an opportunity for the Philippines to improve its systems by transferring technology from other countries.
“We look at foreign-assisted projects as an opportunity to innovate in terms of policies… Protecting natural resources, our natural heritage, is the greatest value of this program,” Ms. Davis said.
“We are thankful to USAID for providing this partnership primarily because it is trailblazing in a sense that we use technology to enhance forest protection activities,” according to Ms. Davis. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio