By Geryl Ogilvy
KUCHING, Dec 12: Sarawak will invest heavily in technological advances inherent in the Internet of Things (IoT) to monitor deforestation and support environmental conservation.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said IoT technology would help the authorities, including the state Forest Department and Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC), to track illegal logging and encroachment of national parks and totally protected areas (TPAs) in real time.
The authorities would be able to react immediately through this increased ability to collect, transmit and share data.
At the same time, the state would also adopt big data to aid its planted forest initiative and strengthen the growth of industrial forests. Abang Johari said big data would provide precise information on the condition of the forest and soil, optimising planting of saplings.
In addition, understanding the forest’s condition would prevent environmental damage, he added.
“Big data will be crucial in our efforts to expedite the growth of industrial forests as well as to monitor deforestation. SFC must have a big data centre that will be connected to all planted forests across the state.
“At the same time, IoT technology will help us detect illegal logging and encroachment. Technology is very important as it increases efficiency. We need the right data to formulate future policies and enrich our forest,” Abang Johari said at SFC 15th anniversary dinner here on Tuesday.
He lauded SFC’s use of state-of-the-art technologies such as high resolution and cloud-free satellite imageries, drone, airborne and terrestrial LiDAR system (Airborne and Ground-based laser scanning) to assess forest resources, biomass and carbon stock.
“Findings from this endeavour will provide valuable, accurate data and information in managing our forest resources on a sustainable basis,” he added while highlighting the crucial use of drones to monitor deforestation.
Apart from industrial forests as a source of revenue for timber and other wood products, Abang Johari said the state would invest heavily to protect its biodiversity, improve national parks and forest reserves that could contribute to the state’s economy through tourism.
Meanwhile, Assistant Minister for Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh said the state had 62 totally protected areas with thousands of kilometres of boundaries covering about one million hectares that needed to be monitored.
The authorities were using satellite and drone technologies for enforcement work, wildlife conservation, boundary patrolling and other modern scientific inventions for surveillance purposes, he added.
“We have developed the necessary capacities and capabilities involving the use of drones and its applications when integrated with the Forestry Geographical Information System (GIS).
“We have also embarked on a timber resource inventory project, namely Development of Geospatial Applications for Geo Drone Operations, in Sarawak to provide more accurate data for timber stock and economic value estimation over timber license area,” he explained.
He added that LiDAR enabled SFC to collect data and carry out primary analysis to know the type of timber stock of a particular licenced area.
Touching on the state’s 62 TPAs, which attracted some 600,000 visitors each year, Len Talif said more needed to be done to improve facilities and services at the national parks to increase tourism.
SFC is also in the midst of creating more dedicated websites for selected national parks.
In line with the digital technology initiative, the corporation is collaborating with Sarawak Multimedia Authority to enhance WiFi connectivity in nine national parks at Bako, Semenggoh, Gunung Gading, Tanjung Datu, Kubah, Matang, Similajau, Niah and Lambir Hills.
“With improved online connectivity, I believe this will generate social media exposure and promote our national parks globally. SFC is also endeavouring to produce Virtual Reality on our parks in the future,” he said. — DayakDaily