USAID B+WISER’s innovation in forest protection featured in an international Digital Development forum

On March 9, USAID’s B+WISER Program presented its forest protection innovation through a lightning talk at the “Digital Development: The Next Ten Years” forum in Washington, DC. More than 300 industry and thought leaders participated in the event to explore how to effectively catalyze organizational change, incentivize new approaches, and take smart risks to tackle continued challenges and barriers to development in the next decade of digital development.

USAID’s B+WISER Program is one of the five winners of USAID’s 2017 Digi Awards. The five-minute presentation focused on the Lawin Forest and Biodiversity Protection System, an innovation that modernized the Philippine government’s approach to forest protection.

Lawin combines four elements of forest protection into a coherent system. These elements are forest conservation area planning, patrol planning and conduct of regular patrols, data management, and response to observed threats. Lawin enables resource managers to effect changes in the forest from its current condition to the desired future condition through a data-driven approach in protecting the remaining natural forest. Through the use of open-source technology, Lawin facilitates digital encoding of patrol observations and ensures that patrol efforts are focused where it matters the most.

Since 2016, more than 3,000 forest rangers and 200 data managers have been trained in implementing the Lawin system. It is currently used to protect 6.3 million hectares of natural forests; and the government has invested more than 48 million dollars in forest protection using this approach.

USAID’s B+WISER Program applied the key principles for digital development in the design and implementation of the system. These principles are: design with the user; understand the existing ecosystem; design for scale; build for sustainability; be data-driven; use open source standards, open data, open source, and open innovation; address privacy and security; reuse and improve; and be collaborative.