In an effort to coordinate and standardize monitoring efforts among protected areas managers, TIDE’s ranger team recently participated in a Data Management Training provided by BIOPAMA. Hosted by TIDE and the Belize Forest Department, the three-day program brought rangers and land managers from across the country together to learn how to use the new Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool, referred to as SMART.
There are numerous conservation groups managing various protected areas across Belize who each conduct their own research and monitoring. Annual reports are compiled by each group and distributed in an effort to share data and knowledge to improve management; however, the new SMART system aims to make this sharing process much easier. The new streamlined data management tool allows rangers and land managers to upload data from the field directly into a centralized database. Sightings locations for species of interest or rosewood tree felling, biodiversity monitoring data and more can be uploaded to the database and shared within the network for mapping ecosystem health in and threats to Belize’s forests. SMART will also help to standardize data collection across groups, making data sharing more straightforward and allow better collaboration between protected areas managers.
During the Data Management Training held at TIDE, participants learned how to use the SMART system and were walked through the new program.
TIDE’s ranger team is excited about this new tool as it will make TIDE’s research and monitoring programs much simpler and more efficient. The new process is paperless and all field data can be recorded by tablet and uploaded directly into the new database remotely. TIDE’s Terrestrial Biologist Elmar Requena explains that this will help cut data entry time in half and make other aspects of management more efficient as well as it combines everything the rangers need to conduct patrols, enter data and even analyze that data all in one convenient spot. The SMART system was implemented in Port Honduras Marine Reserve (PHMR) last year and our rangers have already noticed improvements in enforcement and patrolling efforts as a result! SMART records where and when rangers come across illegal activity and the types of infractions. This data, once compiled, helps the rangers decide where they should focus their patrolling efforts.
The above map was created using SMART data from previous ranger patrols in PHMR and highlights which areas patrol efforts should be focused on.
Rangers from Payne’s Creek National Park (PCNP) and TIDE’s Private Protected Lands (TPPL) took part in this training, alongside rangers from the Belize Forest Department who also patrol our lands, so they can begin to use the SMART system in the coming year. Technical training for using the system was provided and then a field trip to PHMR and TPPL allowed the participants to test the program out in the field. They were also given the opportunity to work with the new terrestrial database that is currently in development. Once the new database and SMART system are implemented next year, data management of Belize’s protected areas will become much more streamlined and centralized, facilitating the production of national reports that combine useful data from all land managers in one location.
Rangers from TIDE and the Belize Forest Department work together to learn how to use their new tools.