Malaysia: Real-time monitoring of mangrove forests starts in Selangor

RAHIMY RAHIM The Star 8 Jan 16;

SUBANG: Conservation of endangered mangrove forests has been given a boost with the start of the first real-time monitoring project in Sabak Bernam, Selangor.

The monitoring would enable the local community, researchers and authorities to observe soil conditions, humidity, water levels, temperature and air conditions of the mangrove area via an automated online cloud computing system developed by Ericsson.

Ericsson Solutions CU Malaysia and Sri Lanka vice-president Sebastian Barros said the mangrove trees were directly connected to its system via sensors and high speed mobile broadband.

“Mangroves are the crossroads between the oceans and land.

“They are one of the most complex ecosystems in the planet.

“Mangrove forests act as ‘bodyguards’ for the coast to defend villages from natural disasters such as tsunami or flooding.

“Unfortunately, they are under various threats and we would like to conserve it,” he said yesterday.

Barros said it was estimated that almost 50% of the mangroves in Malaysia had been destroyed due to illegal logging, threats from pollution and other factors, such as fire, over the past three decades.

“It is a sad reality that in some places the coastal areas are completely naked of mangrove and open to threats such as floods and tsunami,” he said.

Besides replanting mangrove trees, the company has also successfully tracked the growth of specific trees.

“We were told by the villagers that the life expectancy rate of mangrove trees is low.

“They estimate that seven out of 10 mangrove trees planted will reach adult stage.”

He said the company would use the data derived from the monitoring for future conservation and the protection of the ecosystem.

“We are looking at expanding this to other areas such as in Terengganu and Pahang,” he said, adding that the company was also looking for sustainable ways to fund the pilot project.

Barros said that the technology could also be expanded to other agricultural sectors including the palm oil and rubber industries.

The company partnered with a non-governmental organisation and a local company to undertake the conservation project.