Environmental application for rural areas

Islanders and mountain people share a unique richness of up to ten percent of all plant and animal species on the planet.

Held mostly by customary landowners, the people of Papua New Guinea work with UNDP to support environmental conservation.

On the eve of the 2022 National Protected Areas Forum, members of the Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) community in Patanga hosted UNDP in Kimbe Bay for an exciting pilot test of newly developed digital tools.

Working with the Environmental Conservation and Protection Authority (CEPA) and members of the West New Britain Provincial Administration, the Lukim Gather mobile app has been unveiled in this remote protected area.

The Lukim Gather mobile app targets protected area community leaders and members to collect environmental information, which can benefit conservation monitoring and management plans.

Data collected from the app will provide an annual baseline on the state of values ​​and threats in the protected area, as perceived at the community level, which will help CEPA verify detailed assessments which take place every three years.

This innovative mobile technology helps overcome many geographic, infrastructural and technological challenges that prevent the effective monitoring and management of natural resources in the region.

The Lukim Gather app is free, open-source and able to work offline and out of phone signal range, to enable communities in remote areas to collect and share social and environmental information about protected areas.

Automatic data uploads will save time and reduce errors in data collection.

The app also empowers communities to report quickly — and anonymously — about local environmental incidents, including illicit activities such as illegal logging.

The app bridges the gap between remote communities and planning at provincial and national levels. This pilot test in Patanga LMMA, on the shores of Kimbe Bay, included community consultation with 15 men and women of different ages using the app’s questionnaire.

Enthusiastic locals shared their views on the state of plants and animals in this protected area, threats, customary law and their perceptions of the benefits of living near a locally managed marine area rich in biodiversity and natural resources.

Lukim Gather Beta is now available on Google Play stores for testing, with a final release expected in August 2022. Learn more at: www.lukimgather.org

Jennifer C. Burleigh