Project: Empower, Innovate

Technical Assistance to the roll-out of DENR’s LAWIN Forest and Biodiversity Protection System

Threats to the environment are increasing in an alarming rate. In fact, data from the Forest Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources shows that the Philippines is losing approximately 47,000 hectares of forest cover every year. As of 2015, the forest cover of the Philippines is at seven million hectares. By 2017, there are 146 proclaimed watershed forest reserve which is equal to more than 2.6 million hectares.

Undeniably, a vast natural resource entails a great responsibility in conserving and protecting such resource from exploitation. And as threats to conservation are evolving and becoming more challenging, management authorities are compelled to utilize solutions that are innovative and up to date. Zooming into the conservation of our forests, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in partnership with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Biodiversity and Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Ecosystem Resilience Program launched the LAWIN Forest and Biodiversity Protection System. As stated in the DENR Administrative Order 2018-21, LAWIN has four components: (1) Forest Conservation Area Planning, (2) Patrol Planning and Implementation, (3) Data Management, and (Response to Threats).

Embodying the organization’s thrusts on collaboration and the use of innovation in biodiversity conservation, CCIPH helped in the roll-out of and offered its technical expertise for the development of LAWIN. It is also important to highlight that the LAWIN Forest and Biodiversity Protection System is a citizen science-centered innovation that allows a nearby community to monitor and report the status of a protected area through a mobile application CyberTracker. Patrollers can easily track activities in the forests such as illegal logging and poaching among others.

These reports from the community are then considered as data that the local government units should manage and utilize in crafting and implementing strategies on law enforcement coupled with IEC campaigns and policy improvement. Data from LAWIN can also be helpful in identifying appropriate and sustainable livelihood opportunities for communities dependent on the protected area. Also, these data can be used to generate maps and reports that will support law enforcers and policymakers.

Series of capacity-training were conducted among forest guards and technicians to ensure the efficient and effective use of the system.

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