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Jakarta Post

South Sumatran millennials encouraged to help forest, land restoration via app

  • Yulia Savitri

    The Jakarta Post

Palembang, South Sumatra   /   Mon, February 3, 2020   /   02:50 pm
South Sumatran millennials encouraged to help forest, land restoration via app Forest illustration. (Shutterstock/Krasula)

Youths in South Sumatra are encouraged to participate in the restoration of degraded forests and land through data crowdsourcing platforms. 

RESTORE+ project manager Hidayah Hamzah said such data crowdsourcing used an app available for download called Urundata.

Hidayah said the activity started in November 2019 and was to run until March. Participants, she said, would receive the status of #PahlawanData (data hero).

“Presently, we need 1.8 million interpretations from people, especially youths or university students to become data heroes,” she said in Palembang, adding that the activity was conducted in five regions, including South Sumatra.

The collected data, she said, would be made as a base to map the restoration potential that the government and other stakeholders could use to come up with restoration policies.

She said restoration efforts had to be conducted inclusively by involving the wider community considering that “critical land”, according to data at the Environment and Forestry Ministry, had reached 14 million hectares, 1.5 times as much as South Sumatra’s area.

Previously in 2019, her side had conducted a similar activity for land coverage data in South Sumatra. The program, with 600 students from 10 universities in the province participating, was considered successful and effective in helping improve the quality of a map on the change in land coverage. It had collected 1 million satellite image data interpretations with an accuracy rate of 77 percent.

Hidayah said when comparing satellite imagery from 2010 and 2018, degradation was shown to have decreased in the field coverage of some regions in South Sumatra. 

"It was then supported by data from users of the Urundata app. It proves that there was a change in the fields in 2019," Hidayah said.

The success, she added, had encouraged her side to develop the activity at the national level.

To contribute data, she said, users only needed to choose "Yes", "No" or "Not Sure" for questions and images presented on the app. Users with the highest score had the opportunity to take part in an internship program together with the RESTORE+ consortium.

“Such an opportunity of course offers valuable experience for students to learn more about landscape and forest restoration activities,” chairperson of the Community Research and Development Institution (LPPM) STIPER Sriwigama Palembang, Dewi Meidalima, said.

Meanwhile remote sensing specialist Hadi of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) said the quality of the data collected would be tested by a panel of experts from ICRAF, WRI Indonesia and WWF Indonesia.

Validated data would then be published on the Urundata site for the public to use for analysis purposes. The compiled data could be further processed into ideas for national landscape restoration. 

“For the next project, we will involve youths to go to the field and directly observe the degraded environment,” Hadi told The Jakarta Post.