​​​​"SMART" Patrolling for Better Protection of Forest Area

​​Indonesia   English


Batang Gadis National Park (BGNP) and other key conservation areas in Mandailing Natal District, South Tapanuli and North Tapanuli are home for endangered and protected wildlife, such as Sumatran Tiger, Tapir, Golden Cat, Kwao, and many other floral and animal species. For this reason, many attempts have been made to protect these key areas.

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One of them is through a patrol to prevent threats such as forest encroachment, wildlife poaching, and deliberate or accidental forest fire, as well as to engage the local communities around the areas. The patrol is carried out by the BGNP Rangers once a month. 

However, there was no encounter record maintained during the patrol, such as for tracking types of plants or animal footsteps. As a result, the data from the patrol was incomplete and could not be used as a reference to improve the management of the National Park.

A Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) system is introduced to solve this issue and improve the efficiency and management of forest areas. SMART is software that assists the managers of conservation areas and other forest areas to do reporting of their activities in the field. The system provides basic knowledge for management and protection of conservation areas, as well as data management.

SMART is a refinement from the existing patrol system, bringing more practicality and comprehensiveness, as well as proper and accurate data storage. The patrol team can be more thorough and meticulous by filling up a patrol book with their findings from the field.

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​SMART is developed by a number of conservation experts, in collaboration with a consortium of International Non-Governmental Organizations, such as World Wildlife Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society, Flora and Fauna International, Zoological Society of London, Frankfurt Zoological Society, New Castle Zoo, KOTA, and MIKE, and other organizations supported by the government and private sectors. Since its launch in 2011, SMART has been adopted by 147 conservation areas in 31 countries. SMART has also been adopted at a national level by 8 countries including Thailand, Bhutan, and Madagascar.

"SMART was introduced in BGNP in December 2014 by Toby from CI Cambodia, assisted by Paul, a consultant, and we are still using it to date. They taught us the procedure for field patrol, how to input data into the SMART software, and how to process and analyze the data. The collected data can then be used as a reference in managing the area,” said Atos Febrisyahma, a BGNP Ranger.

Each patrol group is provided with a SMART handbook, patrol gears, and other equipment as set out in the patrol procedure. Through a systematic data collection and storage mechanism, this system can manage important information, such as about the growth or change in the population of plant or animal species, illegal activities, and staff involvement. This information can then help decide the allocation of resources for priority activities.

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The communities can also take part in a regular or special patrol as a Community Ranger. By patrolling, they would gain more knowledge on forest conservation as well as earn extra income. The BGNP management is also supported by the communities, who can provide information about wildlife movements in and out of the area, as well as forest encroachers.

There are numerous other benefits enjoyed by the rangers, as a BGNP Ranger, Abda Irama Siregar, said.

"At first, we felt the SMART system was a hassle because we were not used to it, and there were so many new features and media to be used while patrolling. But now, we can see the benefits, which are having a clearer patrol goal and increased awareness while on duty. We also collect much more data on wild animals and types of tree. The data is properly recorded, so it can be used as a reference for better area management."

The SMART system also helps the field staff to patrol more effectively through systematic and adaptive collection of biodiversity data. Hopefully, the system will continue to be refined for a better and more effective conservation area in the future. (Agnes Batuara/June, 28​ 2016)


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