Wednesday, April 24, 2024

PLDT, Smart Join Huawei and Government Partners To Protect Rainforests

MANILA, Philippines, April 2024 - The Philippines’ leading integrated telecommunications company PLDT Inc. (PLDT), and its wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) are working with Huawei Technologies Phils. Inc. (Huawei), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) in deploying the technology of US-based non-profit organization Rainforest Connection (RFCx) to reinforce local forest conservation efforts and support enforcement of environmental laws. 

Recognized as nature-based solutions for climate change, forests prevent carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere, generate clean air and water, and protect from erosion, landslides, and flooding. Forests are also home to various animal and plant species that make up biodiversity and keep the balance in the ecosystem.

“We need to protect and preserve our forests given their ecological importance. Unfortunately, we have been seeing continuous destruction of our forests over the years due to relentless cutting and deforestation activities. And among the many critical sites that need protection from these illegal activities is Palawan, as it is the only province in the country that has retained more than 50% of its original forest cover and is recognized as our last biodiversity frontier,” said Taytay, Palawan Community Environment and Natural Resource Office Forest Technician I, Quick Response Team Leader Voltaire Delos Angeles.

The shared common objective of addressing these and helping protect Philippine forests gave rise to a collaboration among PLDT, Smart, Huawei, DENR, DICT, and RFCx. Under this initial project, RFCx “Guardians”, which are bioacoustics monitoring devices, will be deployed in the protected forest areas of Taytay, Palawan. The Guardians can capture sounds of the forest, including those from chainsaws used for illegal logging and firing of gunshots.

Powered by solar energy, RFCx Guardians are installed high in canopies of trees and equipped with the capacity to capture sounds within a 3-kilometer radius. Collected data is transmitted via wireless technology to the cloud for analysis using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technology, allowing for the identification of possible illegal activities.


With the RCFx Guardians, and through a connected platform called “Arbimon”, forest rangers are able to monitor a wider area more efficiently which would otherwise be near impossible on foot given the size of the forest.  With access to analyzed data from the Guardians, the rangers have access to improved threat intelligence, allowing them to zero-in on specific areas and helping facilitate corresponding action to stop illegal activities in protected forests.


RFCx Guardian devices were previously installed in select forest areas of Palawan in 2020, contributing to the increase in apprehension and decrease in cases of illegal activities. Working in tandem with the DENR and the DICT, PLDT, Smart, and Huawei intend to expand the deployment of these devices in Palawan and in other protected forest areas in the country.


PLDT and Smart recognize the vital role of our forests in combating climate change, in keeping our communities safe from disasters, and in enabling us to continue doing business in the long term. Together with our social outreach arm, the PLDT-Smart Foundation, we are proud to be part of this project that uses communications technology to support and reinforce critical efforts to preserve and protect forests in the country.  We are fortunate to have found like-minded partners in Huawei, the DICT, and the DENR who share our commitment to help protect the planet for the next generation,” said PLDT and Smart Chief Sustainability Officer Melissa Vergel de Dios.


“Aligning with Huawei’s TECH4ALL digital initiative and action plan, this project supports our efforts to innovate solutions, use technology, and work with partners to mitigate the impacts of climate change and be stewards of the Planet for the next generation,” said Huawei SR PR Manager Karrie Buenafe.


PLDT and Smart are continuously leveraging their industry and technology leadership to engage various stakeholders from industry, government, and civil society towards biodiversity conservation and no-deforestation initiatives. Aside from this project, PLDT and Smart have been working on biodiversity and nature-based climate solutions focused on mangroves, peatlands, and seagrasses. 


The telcos also identify climate change as among their top enterprise risks and are thus embedding climate and nature into their network design, operational strategy, and customer solutions. As supporters of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures and the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures, PLDT and Smart align with global standards in reporting climate risk management and environmental protection efforts.


These initiatives aim to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs,) particularly UN SDGs 13 on Climate Action, 14 on Life on Land, and 17 on Partnerships for the Goals.

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