With more than 20,000 species of plants and animals native to the country, the Philippines is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. Much of this biodiversity is contained in natural forest areas, but these once-lush forests and their biodiversity are degrading at an alarming rate. Over time, the country has lost approximately two-thirds of its forest cover, and more than 800 species of its fauna and flora are listed as either endangered or threatened. Today, the Philippines is working to stop biodiversity loss and preserve what remains of its fragile forests.
From lawmakers to ecologists, the sense of urgency to safeguard the Philippines’ protected environmental areas is widespread. Unfortunately, the tools to do so are not. For communities directly affected by the degradation of biodiversity and forest resources, conservation may be essential for their livelihoods. So how can we make use of technology to protect forests and biodiversity for the people who need it most?
Making such technology available to stakeholders on the frontlines of the conservation effort has been a major accomplishment of USAID’s Biodiversity and Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Ecosystem Resilience (B+WISER) program. With the data collected by an innovative forest and biodiversity protection system, environmental conservation is becoming not only tech-savvy, but also inclusive of local governments and communities that face environmental threats firsthand.