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Satellite surveillance to give forest protection a shot in the arm


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Satellite surveillance to give forest protection a shot in the arm

By Piyaporn Wongruang



Smart National Parks 4.0 is set out at the DNP


On a giant screen on the wall of the new command centre of the National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation Department, satellite images are beamed, showing patches of forests of the Sri Lanna National Park hundreds of kilometres away in the North.


With these almost real-time satellite images, which can be traced back up to three months, park officials at the command room can keep a close watch on changes in the forests there, and alert their peers in the field almost immediately to tackle emerging threats.


With the country gearing itself towards an innovation-based society, or Thailand 4.0, the department is keeping itself at the forefront of the changes, coming up with the proposal to develop and put in place new satellite-based applications that would enable them to watch over the forests and threats in the areas


National Parks Bureau director Songtham Suksawang said this would help the department accomplish another critical part of their work besides forest crime suppression – prevention and protection of forests through early assessment of threats and through early warning to the concerned officials.


“Our mission is not just forest crime suppression, but to use technology for better protection of our forests from crimes,” said Songtham during a presentation of Planet, a software based on use of satellite images to help monitor threats and changes to forests nationwide in almost real time.


“Our park rangers in the field probably need only one phone or iPad per group, and investments for this mission would cost us only around 0.97 satang per rai per year, thus saving the losses caused by deforestation.”


Department chief Thanya Netithammakul said at present the department has a mission to protect forest areas nationwide – around 73 million rai in total. The department has around 30,000 rangers working almost around the clock, partrolling forests to protect them from various threats. The chief expects that the deployment of technology would help them to work better in monitoring and tackling emerging threats in their responsible areas.


Sontham expects the department to be comprehensively equipped with the application by September when it’s completely developed.


Besides Planet, there would be some other applications available to park visitors so that they can also help alert to threats that they encounter in the parks, or find locations they can track for visits.


“We are going to enter the 4.0 era,” said Songtham of the ambitious Smart National Park 4.0 project.


Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/news/national/30315824


-- © Copyright The Nation 2017-05-21
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