SMART Technology for Better Environmental Management Print E-mail
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Thursday, 25 January 2018 00:00

SMART, which is an acronym for Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool, is the world’s leading tool for conservation law enforcement monitoring. SMART was developed by global conservation organizations which work in collaboration with protected areas authorities, stake holders, and other pertinent organizations.

The software makes it possible to collect, store, communicate, and analyze data on illegal activities, wildlife, patrol routes, and management actions. SMART allows all this to be done in a more effective and efficient manner which can directly benefit responsible agencies in determining exactly where, how, and by whom poaching, illegal logging, and other direct threats to biodiversity are occurring. It can be used across a broad range of conservation contexts, from strictly protected areas to multiple-use zones, and from terrestrial to marine ecosystems.

In Belize, the implementation of SMART is fairly recent, having just been introduced between 2010 and 2012, but the benefits so far have been numerous and evident. SMART has mostly been used as a marine element in Belize having been implemented by the Belize Fisheries Department throughout the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) system by Government managers, NGO co-managers, as well as a part of national compliance initiatives. The Bacalar Chico, Glovers Reef, Caye Caulker, South Water Caye, and Holchan Marine Reserves have already implemented the use of the software. Other places include the Sapodilla Caye, Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Blue Hole and Lighthouse Reef Natural Monuments, Gladden split, Silk Caye Marine Reserve, and the Laughing Bird National Park.

An official ceremony was held on Wednesday, January 24, to handover SMART equipment. To summarize the words of Hon. Dr. Omar Figueroa, Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, Environment, Sustainable Development, and Climate Change, Belize depends heavily on our natural resources and as the country develops, there will be an even greater need to strategically defend and protect these natural resources while practicing sustainable management of them. SMART allows for the enforcement and management of these resources while being effective and efficient.

The Forestry Department and other terrestrial protection managers are also incorporating the software and, according to Nicole Auil Gomez, Country Director, Wildlife Conservation Society, it provides transparency and accountability while reducing human error. Prior to the implementation of SMART, data was collected on paper which made for several possible errors; SMART is an almost-automated system and allows for one concise and accurate database throughout the country.

Belize has seen the illegal killing and trading of endangered species which has resulted in the loss and threat of valuable biodiversity such as jaguars, macaws, conch, grouper, and their habitats. Just weeks ago, there was an incident of a decapitated jaguar found in the Belize district and another incident of an injured ocelot. The SMART technology can be used in these cases to hopefully prevent future cases and to track illegal poachers.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 January 2018 13:14