September 27, 2023

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Vietnam: Digital Transformation for Forest Management

Digital transformation in the forestry sector has consolidated and streamlined administrative processes, leading to enhanced forest management, protection, and development. Director of Forestry, Tran Quang Bao, affirmed that the adoption of information technology has bolstered the management and safeguarding of forests.

IT application has led to a reduction in both illegal exploitation and transportation of forest products, as well as the illegal hunting of wild animals. Over the years, Xuan Lien Nature Reserve in the central province of Thanh Hoa has implemented SMART in its patrol operations, contributing to the protection of forests and biodiversity in the area. SMART, a collection of data management tools and patrol reports, has gained official recognition worldwide. It facilitates the management of protected areas in Vietnam. By standardising data collection, analysis, and reporting, SMART provides comprehensive information on the status of biodiversity and natural resource management in the protected area system. The data helps develop regulations and make informed decisions.

Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum has been implementing SMART applications since October 2020 with the assistance and training provided by the German Development Cooperation Agency (GIZ) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Vietnam. After over two years of utilising SMART Mobile on smartphone devices, the results of patrolling and checking have been updated on the field through management software more quickly and accurately.

The Reserve has also been implementing IT to enhance the efficiency of other forest management and protection tasks. The reserve has implemented specialised software and a GPS navigation system, which have significantly improved the reserve’s ability to manage and protect over 37,550 hectares of forests and forestry land.

The unit has transitioned from traditional paper maps to map software. Previously, patrolling forces had to carry a locator and compass, which required significant time and often resulted in lower accuracy due to measurement errors. However, with the advent of smartphones, numerous free map applications have been developed, providing a more convenient and accurate means of determining position coordinates during patrols.

In Vietnam, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has set a goal this year to advance efficient and cost-effective digital transformation through a comprehensive plan. It involves seeking support and collaboration from the government, businesses, and professional information technology associations. It will foster a significant shift in mindset and drive action toward digital transformation across agencies, organisations, and individuals involved in the agricultural value chain at both central and local levels. The Ministry is actively working towards finalising and issuing a comprehensive list of databases that fall under its management.

The Ministry is also promoting the application of digital technologies, including sensors, IoT (Internet of Things), artificial intelligence (AI), and data mining. These technologies are being used to monitor land conditions, forest resources, and weather patterns.

The establishment of a national database through a unified data management and patrol tool (SMART) used across the country on the management, protection, and conservation of biodiversity special-use and protected forests has served the management and inspection of management agencies from central to grassroots levels, contributing to the conservation and sustainable development of national biodiversity resources.

The widespread application of digital technology has significantly enhanced the state management of forests, including special-use and protected forests. This has led to the stabilisation and development of forests in terms of both area and quality, thereby promoting their vital role in conserving unique forest ecosystems, endemic species, endangered and rare species, as well as historical, cultural, and religious relics.

For long-term progress, it is necessary to implement mechanisms and policies to improve economic and technical norms, especially digital technology, for the activities of forest management boards across the country.


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