A stack of digital technologies to support rights recognition and community forest governance
Development and deployment of a stack of smartphone applications is one of the key objectives of ISB’s Initiative on the Forest Economy.
Digital technology has transformed lives in the 21st century. It has penetrated every aspect of our lives and touched lives even in remotest corners of the world. A key aspect of these developments is the power of mobile telephony and internet, and the associated opportunities provided by the development of digital applications specifically for the smartphone. In many ways, internet-enabled smartphones have put the world in our hands. Despite the rapid penetration of smartphones, most applications continue to cater to urban middle-class consumers. We are committed to deploying the power of digital applications for creating an inclusive forest economy. Development and deployment of a stack of smartphone applications is one of the key objectives of ISB’s Initiative on the Forest Economy. The key purpose of the technology stack is to facilitate the recognition of community forest resource rights at scale and setting up community-led systems for transparent, accountable, and sustainable management of forest resources. To achieve this ambition, our team is developing digital tools for mapping, measuring, monitoring, and managing forest resources at the community level.
Creating an accurate boundary map is a very critical part of the process of making a CFR claim.
The most important application in this stack relates to mapping. Creating an accurate boundary map is a very critical part of the process of making a CFR claim. Once boundaries have been mapped, the next application will enable collecting systematic data on the patterns of rights exercised in the forest and basic socio-economic and demographic information of the community. The third application will help with creating an inventory of resources available in the forest, along with their seasonality. This forest inventory mapping exercise will allow the communities create a management and business plan to negotiate for better prices with traders and industry buyers of raw materials. Finally, the business application on the stack will track the level of extraction and sale of seasonal forest products on a regular basis, helping create transparency and accountability.
Development of the technology stack will involve repeated field trials and feedback from communities in Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Maharashtra. Eventually, it is for their use that the stack is being developed! In addition to intensive participation of communities, the stack will also involve a web-based digital architecture to store data, and an application dedicated to data protection and privacy. This will take the form of an Identity and Access Management application, which will determine which stakeholder has access to which part of the stack and related databases. By design, communities will be able to control their data and determine who has access. The applications will also have the capability to interface with other data inputs, such as from drones sharing images for creating forest inventory or measuring forest health. Some applications will combine satellite images, online databases, and advanced machine learning algorithms to compute solutions, such as advanced estimates of production of Sal seeds in a given year.
This stack of technological applications will be available to all CFR communities, along with online multimedia training resources. Together, these applications will enhance the capacity of the local communities to use digital technology for sustainable forest management at the community and landscape levels.