A Filipino scientist has reported success in the efficient integration of radio-frequency identification (RFID) and geomatics for improved forest management in the country.

Dr. Nathaniel C. Bantayan of the College of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) said the system he has employed at Mount Makiling is scientifically-rooted and provides a system for monitoring forest growth as well as abuse by intruders.

With his system, Bantayan said "parameters of forest growth such as diameter, height, and crown size can be collected on a regular basis using an RFID system, trees are geolocated, and the data are stored in a geodatabase. Individual trees are fitted with RFID tags/transponders and read by an RFID scanner/interrogator. The data can be fed into a geodatabase of a GIS application that allows spatially-explicit monitoring and visualization."

Bantayan’s paper was the first delivered during the ICT-Asia Workshop 2015 conducted by the French government in coordination with the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) at the SEARCA headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna from May 25 to 26. Other partners in the regional workshop are the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and UPLB.

The workshop, stressed SEARCA Director Gil C. Saguiguit Jr., brought together experts from the Philippines, other ASEAN Member States, Japan, France, South Korea and other nations who are all interested in applying information and communication technology for mitigating adverse climate change impacts and pushing agricultural and rural development.

Participants to the workshop were welcomed as well by French Ambassador to the Philippines Gilles Garachon and André de Bussy, regional counselor for development in ASEAN at the French foreign ministry.

Shahbaz Khan, officer in charge of UNESCO’s Regional Science Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, said the output of the workshop participants will have a positive impact on ASEAN member-nations.

UPLB Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez Jr. stressed the ICT applications developed by workshop participants will lead to the development of science-based agriculture that will be better equipped to confront climate change and other development issues.

Elaborating on his work, Bantayan said "the pioneering precision forestry system is the first to combine RFID and geomatics. In the proposed system, trees and other flora are monitored for long-term ecological forest growth and dynamics that allow assessment of the impact of climate change and identification of resilient species."

He batted for the long-term use of the system, noting that "the apparent advantages and expected lowering of cost in the near future bode well towards installing an RFID-enabled monitoring system."

Bantayan predicted that "with continuous advancement of information and communication technology, the application of RFID and geomatics to sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation is highly feasible."

The UPLB scientist stressed that fine-tuning the technology can lead to its being adopted in other forest ecosystems in the Philippines and ASEAN.

"With funding from potential partners, we hope to establish such a system in the Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve, Philippines where at least four two-hectare long-term ecological plots have already been established, and flora have been surveyed and individually plotted in GIS," he said.

Bantayan is Director of the Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems (MCME) at the UPLB College of Forestry and Natural Resources.

His work mainly involves generating and strengthening scientific knowledge for the conservation and sustainable development of tropical mountain ecosystems in partnership with mountain communities.

Bantayan holds a Master of Science in Tropical Forestry from the Wageningen University, The Netherlands and a PhD in Engineering from the University of Melbourne, Australia.