Local environmental authorities welcomed the launching of the EarthRanger mobile applicatioan on Friday, saying it would greatly help in reporting threats and hazards to protected areas without endangering the lives of environmental enforcers.
The app, which was launched in Palawan on Earth Day, uses artificial intelligence technology and is accessible to the public, which means even citizen scientists can report various environmental concerns.
It was also introduced to local authorities with the efforts of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Sustainable Interventions for Biodiversity, Oceans, and Landscapes (SIBOL) project, along with its local government and non-government organization (NGO) partners.
“One of our projects kung saan na-integrate [ang EarthRanger] ay ang LAWIN Biodiversity Monitoring. Ito ay kung titingnan natin, improved version of LAWIN, kasi may cybertracker, may app, and then dino-document ang mga threats o changes in landscape doon sa mga napupuntahang area, then ise-send ito sa ating monitoring system,” said Felizardo Cayatoc, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO), in an interview.
“This will be the basis of our enforcement action or enforcement instructions sa field level, especially ‘yong mga CENRO (Community Environment and Natural Resources Office) natin,” he added.
The app can also record data even without an Internet connection since it stores data in real-time. Updates will be uploaded once a user reaches an area with an Internet connection. Aside from reporting threats such as poaching, illegal logging, or forest fires, it can also be used to track the movement of local wildlife, monitor deforestation in real-time, and other ecological changes.
Likewise, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) superintendent Beth Maclang said that the app will also help park rangers report threats without risking their lives. She cited an incident in 2020 wherein one of their rangers was shot by suspected illegal loggers on park grounds, and said that using the app would hopefully help them avoid similar incidents.
‘’Yong EarthRanger na app, bagong-bago itong magagamit sa buong Palawan, especially sa mga protected areas natin. Ang PPSRNP ay isa sa magiging user nito. Hindi na basta-basta reconaissance ng manpower ang kailangan, magagamit ito kasi ang monitoring real-time, kahit wala kami sa area mamo-monitor namin,”she said.
“Basta mayroon kang Android phone at ma-register ka bilang Earth Ranger ay magagamit ‘yon,” she added.
Aside from the EarthRanger launch, environmental authorities also held an exhibit and an activity center at Robinson’s Mall and SM Puerto Princesa.