Employees of protected areas cover tens of kilometers daily, recording important data about the situation in the field. Scientists, for example, monitor the distribution of rare species, rangers – identify violations. These data are recorded in observation diaries and passed on to colleagues for further analysis. Such a process requires a lot of time and human effort.
In order to simplify and increase the reliability of data collection, SMART, a tool for spatial monitoring and reporting, was presented in several target institutions of the SNPA project. SMART allows to store and synchronize patrol or research data on a server in real-time, as well as analyze and generate reports.
During February 18-19 in Rakhiv, employees of the three project territories Carpathian Biosphere Reserve, Verkhovynskyi National Nature Park (NNP), and Carpathian NNP participated in the SMART training organized within the Carpathian Primary Forest Conservation (CPFC) program. If the implementation of SMART in these pilot parks will be successful, other 5 target territories will be also trained.
The SNPA project provides special and very robust multi-use smartphones to the rangers which also work as radios. As part of the pilot activity, these rugged phones will now be tested and if successful, provided to further rangers in the SNPA parget parks.
As a part of the training, the participants learned to use SMART in the field. They followed a given route, recording observations on a mobile phone: traces of wild animals and signs of their activities. When connected to a computer, the data was automatically entered into the program with map visualization of the route and findings on it. After a year of collecting such data, it is possible to assess the effectiveness of employees and analyze the distribution of different species.
This tool increases the efficiency of protected area management. For example, accurate information on the location and frequency of registration of rare species makes it possible to better identify the places of their concentration and other important areas, and thus, it will be clearer where to conduct certain research, reduce potential negative impacts, and so on. Also, the coverage of the area by researchers, tracks, and patrol locations of the specific inspectors can be analyzed.
During March, the parks will test SMART in the field. Coaches will contact them weekly to track progress and answer questions. In April, it is planned to discuss the results and jointly finalize a universal model of data collection, which would consider all the needs and objectives of institutions during the year.
The training was organized by joining forces with the Carpathian Primary Forest Conservation (CPFC) program which is implemented by the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) and made possible through the generous support of the Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) of the German government within the framework of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). SMART is also tested in the target parks of the CPFC project.