The Forest Scribe

Artificial Intelligence Technology to Help Monitor Forest in Bali

forest in Bali

The West Bali National Park will become the first in the country to use artificial intelligence technology to better monitor its forest and thus help it combat illegal logging, poaching and to provide a better protection of its ecosystem.

The Smart Forest Guardian, is a virtual monitoring system currently being jointly developed by a technical team of global information and communications technology (ICT) provider Huawei and several government ministries and institutions — the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment, the National Cyber and Crypto Agency (BSSN), the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK).

“As a pilot project, the implementation is hoped to be executed in 2020,” said Arief Kadaryono, Huawei Indonesia’s Public Relations Manager.

The system that would make use of technology developed by Huawei and is part of its global digital inclusion initiative, TECH4ALL, that is part of the company’s social responsibility program in empowering digital technology for the environment, education and health.

Arief said that the monitoring uses audio detectors which would provide sound data that would then be processed using artificial intelligence to produce complete data on ongoing activities in the forest.

He said the system “uses sound censor technology that is then processes with artificial intelligence, to detect sounds in that forest.”

A team composed of representative of the government ministries and institution concerned as well as from Huawei, have already conducted a survey to the West Bali National Park in October as part of preparation for the project, a Huawei written statement sent by Arief to the Forest Scribe said.

The survey followed a coordination meeting on stepping up virtual supervision of forest areas convened by the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment early in October. In the meeting, Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut B. Pandjaitan was quoted in the statement as saying that boosting the monitoring of forest areas was a main priority.

“With this technology, we can prevent illegal activities that occur in our forests. We ask Huawei and all related ministries and institutions to be able to harmonize the systems and data that will be developed so that it can be a tremendous leap in monitoring illegal activities in Indonesia’s forests,” Pandjaitan said.

In developing the Smart Forest Guardian Huawei is also collaborating with non-profit non-governmental organization Rainforest Connection to use artificial intelligence technology to protect forests from illegal logging and illegal poaching as well as nature conservation efforts at the West Bali National park, Huawei Indonesia CEO Jacky Chen said.

“We strongly believe that technology is good and brings the greater benefit to the nation. It is just the beginning of a great journey together for a more sustainable environment,” Chen said. Rainforest Connection has used this technology in the tropical rainforests of Costa Rica, the Philippines and several other countries.

Besides to monitor forest, the technology was also expected to help monitor wildlife in the forest, encourage nature tourism and both the enrichment and use of forest data.

This monitoring system is able to send real-time alert when it detect the sound such as chainsaw, motorcycles or trucks which could signal illegal activities such as illegal logging, mining or poaching. In its official website Rainforest Connection said that the audio database and the real-time warning could be accessed or received through cellphones.

The monitoring system can also provide an insight into the habits of wildlife so that the appropriate steps could be taken to protect them.

On its website, Rainforest Connection said that the data from this audio monitoring system would also help in creating a digital library that would provide access to raw acoustic data gathered from forest in various corners of the globe.

Besides enabling scientist to compare changes, month by month, or year by year, of the changes taking place in the most vulnerable ecosystems so that they could be better protected, the data and information could also be used for land management, policy changes and a more targeted allocation of the limited resources so as to achieve a greater impact.

Kusdaryono could not detail how many audio detectors would be needed to cover the entire West Bali National Park, Kus said that “the placement location for these detections becomes important to maximize the function and benefit of this Smart Forest Guardian solution for forest conservation.”

The Environment and Forestry Ministry’s Director General for Nature and Ecosystem Conservation, Wiratno was quoted in the same written statement as saying that his ministry was already using technology to monitor wildlife. “At present, we are already using camera traps and GPS collars to monitor Sumatran Elephants.”

“With this collaboration, AI (artificial intelligence) technology is used to detect sounds in the forest. This sound detection can also enrich the system used by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to monitor animals in Indonesia,” he said.

Wiratno also said that though this technology, a virtual sound museum could be built, containing the various sounds captured by the censors installed in the forest.

The West Bali National Park did not answer request for a comment but its hear, Agus Ngurah was also quoted in the written statement as welcoming the cooperation. 

The technology that we will develop together with Huawei and Rainforest Connection will assist us in protecting our forest. Especially in the West Bali National Park, with its endemic species of the Bali Starling which is also a protected species because they are classified as rare,” Ngurah said.

The Bali Starling, which is also the mascot of the West Bali National Park, is endemic to the island and only a couple of hundreds of this bird are left in its natural habitat. The Bali Starling also nearly went extinct because of illegal poaching.

The West Bali National Park covers 77,000 hectares of forest and savanna in two districts – Jembrana and Buleleng. Some 160 protected flora and fauna species can be found in the park. They include animals such as bulls, deers, leaf monkeys, flying foxes and various birds, including the Bali Starling.

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