Malaysia: Connected mangroves

IZWAN ISMAIL New Straits Times 28 Nov 16;

Telecommunication solutions provider Ericsson uses tech to help rehabilitate mangrove areas in Sabak Bernam, writes Izwan Ismail

OVER the past years, soil and river pollution in the Sabak Bernam coastal area in Selangor has resulted in severe dwindling of mangrove trees in the area.

This in turn has led to serious erosion of the area which, if not addressed, will cause more damage.

To this end, Ericsson has stepped in to offer its expertise and technology know-how in monitoring the growth of mangroves and, at the same time, gauge the environmental condition.

Its vice president of solutions for Malaysia and Sri Lanka, Sebastian Barros, says farmers are very worried about erosion there.

“Much had been done. The affected community planted new mangrove saplings but the exercise was not very successful. Due to the harsh weather conditions, growth was affected and saplings died. Monkeys also destroyed the young trees,” he says.


What Ericsson is doing is to bring the wonders of Internet of Things (IoT) and wireless technology to the area, specifically Kampung Datuk Hormat. “We want to rehabilitate the mangrove areas which have eroded and are disappearing,” says Barros.

According to him, mangrove trees can hold up to 100 times the effect of tsunamis as they act as an essential natural barrier.

Besides that, they can hold carbon up to five times better than other trees.

The area is also home to 100 species of fauna, including snakes and crabs.


The project, which started in September 2015, is called Ericsson’s Connected Mangroves, the first of its kind in the world.

It combines cloud, machine-to-machine and mobile broadband to help the local community in Kampung Datuk Hormat to better manage the growth of mangrove saplings.

After the affected areas were identified, volunteers from Ericsson, NGOs and the villagers planted mangrove saplings that were equipped with special sensors which could monitor real-time information about soil and weather conditions, fires, water levels and any intrusion from third parties.

This ensured positive growth and rehabilitation of eroded coastlines.

“Data is compiled and sent directly to a cloud system where users, such as farmers, NGOs, analysts and authorities, can have access to it and so understand more about the current status of the saplings,” says Barros.


Ericsson’s aim is to plant 10,000 mangrove trees by end of 2018. To date, it has planted 3,000.

“By combining ICT innovation with collaborative partnerships built on a shared vision, we now see a higher percentage of mangrove saplings that are likely reach maturity.

In addition, through the Internet of Things (IoT) solution, the community has been empowered to use data to manage the environment and take action to support the mangroves,” he says.

It was estimated that only 40 per cent of mangrove saplings had reached maturity in recent years.

But pilot results from the project have shown an improvement of 50 per cent in the mortality rate.

“This implies that with the Connected Mangroves approach, for every 1,000 saplings, around 700 or more can reach adulthood,” says Barros.