Mangrove in the PhilippinesCSR

Ericsson, PLDT, Smart connect for environmental conservation in the Philippines

Ericsson, together with PLDT Inc., an integrated telecommunications company, and its wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) strengthen their partnership for nature conservation in the Philippines, with the signing of a new Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).

The partnership aims to leverage the use of technology and advanced machine learning solutions to support environmental sustainability in Sasmuan (Central Luzon, north of the capital Manila). Reinforcing this partnership is the participation of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Sasmuan, Pampanga.

This five-party collaboration will further enhance the conservation of the Sasmuan Bangkung Malapad Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (SBMCHEA), recently declared by the DENR as a protected area. Located in the municipality of Sasmuan, Pampanga, this includes a 405-hectare mangrove wetland, which is an important habitat to many endemic, migratory, and threatened water bird species. In addition, its mangrove swamps serve as natural flood and typhoon barriers and help to preserve marine biodiversity.

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In 2021, the mangrove swamps of Sasmuan were also designated as the 8th wetland of international importance in the Philippines under the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands.

“Our approach to sustainability and corporate responsibility is an integral part of Ericsson’s strategy and culture, that is embedded across all our operations,” said Martin Wiktorin, head of Ericsson Singapore, Brunei, and the Philippines. “Our vision is to create a world where limitless connectivity improves lives, redefines business, and pioneers a sustainable future and this latest partnership embodies this. As a long-standing partner to Smart, we are constantly striving to leverage technology to create a positive impact on communities, first with the use of IoT to connect mangroves and now with AI to further protect nature as well as the ecological biodiversity in the Philippines.”

Under the MOA, Ericsson will deploy artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled CCTV cameras to identify migratory bird species and enable better preservation of endangered wildlife in Sasmuan, Pampanga. PLDT will host the cloud system for the data that will be collected by the AI cameras, while Smart will provide end-to-end internet mobile connectivity. The relevant data will then be processed via a dashboard made available to the DENR and the LGU of Sasmuan, Pampanga.

“This partnership demonstrates how we can leverage information and communications technology or ICT and connectivity in caring for the environment and preserving it for the next generation,” said Melissa Vergel de Dios, FVP and head of PLDT’s Sustainability and Investor Relations Offices. “Together with Ericsson, we continue to explore innovations to see how we can create more Internet of Things (IoT) and AI technology-based solutions that could address environmental challenges and help mitigate climate change.”

This latest partnership follows a previous Connected Mangroves project in 2017, where an IoT solution for the reforestation of mangroves was deployed in the same LGU in Pampanga. Data such as water level, humidity, soil moisture, and temperature, was also captured by solar-powered sensors via wireless connectivity over a cloud system. This information then allowed the community to better manage the area’s conservation. Based on a census in 2020, over 50,000 birds are using SBMCHEA as a migration stopover.