5 July 2018

WORLD BEST NEWS: Danish app protects Cambodian forests

To mark The World Best News Campaign, The Secretariat for Development Cooperation at SCIENCE republish some of the World Best News in 2018 involving SCIENCE researchers. This news is redirected and translated by The Secretariat for Development Cooperation at SCIENCE from The World Best News.

A Danish-Cambodian forest project has won the so-called ISTF Innovation Prize, an international innovation prize rewarded by Yale University in the USA.

The Cambodian forest activists from the organization Prey Lang Community Network won the prize because they - with help from a Danish developed app - map and reveal illegal logging and tree-burning in the so-called Prey Lang forest in the eastern part of Cambodia. Not much more than a year ago, the same forest activists won the UN's environmental prize the "UN Equator Prize" at the large clima conference COP21 in Paris.  

The activists collect information by taking photos with their mobile phones of the places where illegal activities take place. Through the app the information´s are sent to an encrypted database where they are gathered and labelled according to time, place and cathegory.

"The work, which the Cambodians are doing, is amazing - both from a research- and development point of view. That they get the prize, from the UN and now from Yale University shows the potentials of the project. The use of the app is an innovative solution to solve the complex task to surveille large forest areas with this great amounts of illegal logging," Søren Brofeldt, ph.d.-student at Department of Food and Ressource Economics at University of Copenhagen, tells. He developed the app in collaboration with a Cambodian IT-firm and the development organisation Danmission who are project holders on the Cambodian forest project.

According to Søren Brofeldt, the activists documentation of illegal logging has created a far larger media interest and political focus on the Prey Lang Forest which in 2016 got a status as a protected natural area by the Cambodian government.

Thumbnail Image: Malte Kristiansen, Verdens Bedste Nyheder

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