Reports of harmful and illegal activities inside Protected Areas in Papua New Guinea can now be reported and monitored by just the push of a button.
Papua New Guinea’s rainforest, the third largest in the world is home to a diverse range of endemic plant and animal species. This rich biodiversity is not only threatened by climate change, increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, as well as natural disasters but also by various human activities. With the new mobile phone application, it only takes moments to notify the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) of those activities.
The phone app Lukim Gather was developed by Catalpa International, a software company in Timor-Leste; Lukim simply means to ‘see’ in Tok Pidgin and ‘gather’ information. This new system will allow Rangers, who work in isolated areas, to quickly record and report harmful activities, such as illegal logging, bush fires, and human activities such as over gardening, hunting and natural hazards occurring in PNG’s protected areas.
The application was recently piloted and tested at the Varirata National Park in Port Moresby and Tenkile Conservation Area in Lumi, West Sepik Province. A finetuned version of the App will be installed on the rangers’ smartphones. Each Ranger in his or her respective protected area will be able to identify and rapidly enter any harmful or illegal activity happening in the protected area.
The Lukim Gather application is designed to also function outside of mobile cell range in remote areas and allows users to collect localised data based on environmental and livelihood changes observed by protected area communities. The data automatically uploads to a central server when users re-enter mobile phone coverage, allowing rapid collection of key site data while avoiding costly and lengthy transportation to Port Moresby or user input errors.
Dirk Wagener, UNDP Resident Representative said, “youths are creative, innovative and are able to quickly adopt and use new technologies to address issues within their communities. UNDP is proud to support CEPA in addressing conservation challenges through the use of mobile app technologies.”
John Katu, a youth who participated in the Lukim Gather training thanked CEPA and UNDP saying, “we will work to bridge information between communities and partners to raise awareness on the importance of the biodiversity conservation and protected areas in PNG including the Varirata National Park. We look forward for more engagement in the future to benefit the local communities.”
Through the use of technology and innovation, the Lukim Gather application addresses Sustainable Development 13: Climate Change and Goal 15: Life on Land.
This initiative rolled out by CEPA is possible through the support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through funding from Global Environment Facility (GEF).