World first workshop of "Spatial Monitoring & Reporting Tool - SMART"​ in Portuguese takes place in Protected Area in the Brazilian Amazon

Monitoring and protecting vast protected areas and wildlife with limited resources and small teams is a huge challenge in Brazil and in many other countries rich in tropical rainforests. But thanks to the technological advances of recent years, field monitoring data can be collected more easily and better managed with the use of conservation technologies such as drones, environmental sensors, camera traps, mobile applications, and other tools.

The SMART translation into Portuguese is part of the WWF-Brazil project, funded by the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, to test conservation technologies in the Amazon Protected Areas Program - ARPA in Brazil. Currently, ARPA protects more than 60 million hectares in 117 Protected Areas in the Amazon. Despite the successes of the Amazon Protected Areas Program - in which WWF is one of the protagonists - we are very concerned about the reduction of resources for monitoring deforestation and the attempts of politicians to Downgrading, Downsizing, and Degazettement Protected Areas.

Last month, about 30 participants from SEMA the State Secretary for the Environment of Amazonas State responsible for 37 State Protected areas; two Federal Protected Area manager from ICMBIO; and two indigenous agents of Environmental Protection Program from the Waimiri Atroari ethnicity; and one staff of the Wildlife Conservation Society –WCS, participated during three days in an unprecedented theoretical and practical training on the use of SMART in Portuguese, as well as discussions on how to tool,  could support the management and protection of Protected Areas in the Brazilian Amazon. The training took place at Três Unidos Indigenous Community, from the Kambeba ethnic group, located on the banks of the Cuieiras River, just over 60 kilometers from Manaus in the Rio Negro. The area is a sustainable use State protected area, APA Rio Negro, managed by SEMA - Amazonas.

The "Spatial Monitoring & Reporting Tool - SMART" is open source software that has been developed through collaboration between agencies and conservation organizations around the globe concerned with improving the effectiveness of protected area management and protection. SMART makes it possible to collect, store, communicate and analyze data on illegal activities, biodiversity, patrol routes, and management actions to better utilize resources and evaluate the performance and management and protection efforts of Protected areas.

Thanks to this unprecedented translation, the first beta version of SMART in Portuguese is now available for download on the SMART Partner website (http://smartconservationtools.org/). This will allow the Portuguese-speaking community around the world to have access to SMART for the first time in their own language. This is an important milestone for the SMART partnership, as the "potential Portuguese language community" that could benefit from SMART in Portuguese was estimated at 279 million people, representing 10 countries on 03 different continents (CPLP July / 17 ). Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tome and Principe and Timor-Leste are examples of Portuguese-speaking countries that often have vast areas of tropical forests, vast coastlines and often do not necessary to ensure the effective conservation of these areas.

We expect SMART and other conservation technologies to help overcome these challenges and help protect protected areas to tackle threats, monitor biodiversity, and allocate scarce resources to protect effectively, identifying areas of greatest risk. The SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool) is an innovative and innovative management tool designed to help teams at the forefront of conservation tackle threats and ensure the preservation of nature. This approach has already demonstrated its effectiveness in improving management and protection efforts in more than 600 protected areas in 55 countries and is now being tested and implemented in Brazil for the first time.

Felipe Spina Avino, a WWF –Brazil analyst who coordinates the SMART adaptation and trialing project in Brazil, believes that using innovative technologies and tools can help solve conservation problems and challenges. Mobile phones can be great allies to conservation, and provide a wide range of relevant data facilitating the management and protection of Forest, and engaging diverse actors in this process such as tourists and local communities. We know that, unfortunately, there is a lack of sufficient resources for effective management and protection of protected areas, but technology can help us to know where to focus and better apply the existing resources to achieve better results and ensure the conservation of these areas.

Osvaldo Barassi Gajardo, a WWF –Brazil analyst , who also participated as an instructor in the workshop, complements that the initiative to take the SMART tool to the context of the management of the State Protected Areas of Amazonas corresponds to a complementary and highly relevant action to contribute to the agenda of strengthening the management of the State Protected Areas. Which together with the definition of efficient management structures and an increase in the number of park rangers and other instruments, can help to increase the effectiveness of the management of the Protected Areas in the region.

As part of the process to implement SMART in Brazil, last week WWF-Brasil took two Protected Area staff from the Amazonas State Park service (SEMA-Amazonas) Kleber Brechara (the director of the Protected Area Department) and Jaime Gomes (PA manager and SMART focal point at SEMA) to do an very productive exchange visit to see how SMART has been used in our neighbor country Colombia.

Colombia is a beautiful and biodiverse country with many protected areas. In Colombia SMART, is known locally as SICO-SMART, which stands for “system of information and control”, and has been implemented since 2013. Currently around 58 Protected Areas (36 Terrestrial and 12 Marine PA´s) uses SMART at some level. Our exchange visit included very productive meetings with the Colombia Park Authority (Parques Nacionales Colombia-PNC), where we had a chance to learn more about SICO-SMART from the PNC team involved in coordinating SMART such as Nestor Zabala, Jorge Duarte, Adriana Fonseca, and Luzmila Sotelo. As well, insights from park managers and field teams using SMART at Chingaza National Park from Juan Clavijo, Cesar Delgado, Edimar Hernadez, and Fredy Garcia. The following day we had to Chingaza Natural National Park, a natural and cultural treasure located in the center of Colombia to join some SMART patrols. Located on the Eastern Andes, it is found northeast of Bogota and comprises 11 municipalities: The park is not only important due to its blooming and unique biodiversity, but also for being responsible to supply most of Bogotá fresh water. The high Andean, sub-Andean forest and moorland ecosystems are predominant in the area, acting also as havens for majestic fauna and flora reserves. Despite the typical cold and wet day, it was a great chance to get some direct contact with the use of SMART Colombia, and get to know more about the main pressures and threats to Chingaza. The Brazilian delegate also had a chance to speak with the local WWF protected area coordinator Mauricio Herrera, as well with WCS staff (Jorge Parra and Lina Caro) involving in deploying SMART in many Colombia PA´s, gaining further knowledge on how SMART has been currently implemented and move forward in Colombia. The present effort is to set up SMART in all Colombiam PA´s, move towards SMART Connect, trial new plugins such as the Ecological Records, and explore how SMART can be more used in sustainable use areas to also support sustainable activities and natural resource use.

WWF-Brazil hopes to continue to work together with the Brazilian government in 2019 to promote SMART training and start trialing SMART in the Amazon and other regions of Brazil. SMART is a unique example of a global partnership of conservation NGOs that includes the Frankfurt Zoological Society, Global Wildlife Conservation, North Carolina Zoo, Panthera, Peace Parks Foundation, Wildlife Conservation Society, Wildlife Protection Solutions, World Wildlife Fund and Zoological Society of London.

Read more about SMART implementation in Brazil: