Thursday, December 18, 2014

Aljazeera reports on P3DM made and used in Samoa to adapt to climate change and mitigate disasters



Participatory 3D Model (P3DM) done by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) in Samoa in the framework of the GEF-Funded "Integration of climate change risk and resilience into forestry management in Samoa (ICCRIFS)" Project now in on Aljazeera news.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Top UN officials Helen Clark and Naoko Ishii praising outcome of P3DM activities in Samoa



During the SIDS Conference which took place in Apia, Samoa, in September 2014, Ms Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator and Dr Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO & Chairperson are introduced to the Participatory 3D Model (P3DM) done by representatives from 14 villages in Lauli'i to Falevao area on Upolu Island, Western Samoa in the context of the GEF-Funded "Integration of climate change risk and resilience into forestry management in Samoa (ICCRIFS)" Project.

This short video captures some of their inspiring comments.

Credits for footage and still images: Paulo Amerika, MNRE, Samoa

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Nation-wide database based on content generated via Participatory 3D Models

SYDNEY, 19 November 2014. During the World Parks Congress session "A toolkit to support conservation by Indigenous Peoples and local communities: building capacity and sharing knowledge" organised by Colleen Corrigan from UNEP-WCMC, PAFID Executive Director Dave de Vera elaborated on the establishment of a country-wide database based on selected data sourced (FPIC obtained) from more than 150 1:5000 scale participatory 3D models (P3DM) realised by indigenous peoples in the Philippines.



The toolkit produced by United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and launched at the Congress includes 150 tools among which a range of participatory mapping methods including P3DM.  The toolkit is meant to build capacity and sharing knowledge for Indigenous Peoples and Community Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCAs).

It also includes a case study from Ethiopia which summarizes the outcome of a P3DM exercise facilitated by MELCA-Ethiopia with support provided by CTA.

The toolkit also recommends the "Training Kit on Participatory Spatial Information Management and Communication" published by CTA and IFAD in 2012

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Mandingalbay Yidinji Traditional Owners mapped their lands in 3 dimensions - Don't miss their feedback at the World Park Congress in Sydney

Australian aboriginal Mandingalbay Yidinjii people have recently completed a P3DM exercise within the ancestral territories (traditional country) in Queensland.

They will showcase their work and replicate the population of one section of their 3D model during the World Parks Congress in Sydney They will do this at the WIN and Pacific Community Dialogue Pavilion (Pavilion 2) on 13-15 November. You should pass by and talk to them about their exciting experience.

On Monday, 17 November 8:30 – 12:00 they will officially present their achievements at the WIN & Pacific Community Dialogue Pavilion (Pavilion 2) during the session “Voices and choices: The risks and values of georeferencing traditional and local knowledge”. This session is organised by CTA with support provided by IUCN, UNDP, GEF-SGP and the WTMA.

More on this activity and related events at the Worls Parks Congress is found on this flyer.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Forthcoming P3DM-related activities at the 6th World Park Congress, Sydney 12-19 November 2014

Click to download the flyer
This is to update you about a series of events which will focus on Participatory GIS practice during the forthcoming IUCN World Park Congress. The events we are organising have a common denominator: Participatory 3D modelling (P3DM).

Below is a short description of the 3 events / activities:

Rolling activity (13-17 November),  at the WIN & Pacific Community Dialogue Pavilion (Pavilion #2)

Title: Participatory 3D modelling of the traditional country of the Mandingalbay Yidinji People, Queensland, Australia

Organisers: Wet Tropics Management Authority with support provided by IUCN, CTA and UNDP Equator Initiative with financial support provided by UNDP GEF-SGP

Starting on 13 November and for the duration of the conference, representatives from the aboriginal Mandingalbay Yidinji People will work on a 3D Model reproducing their ancestral territory within the Wet Tropics World Heritage site. The model will be at a 1:10,000 scale and include terrestrial and coastal components. It will be a replica of a larger model completed by a wider representation of the community in Queensland with support provided by the Wet Tropics Management Authority, IUCN and UNDP GEF-SGP. The population of the 3D model with data will occur during the conference within the WIN Communities Dialogue Pavilion. Support in the process will be offered by Partners with Melanesians. The completed model will be presented by Mandingalbay Yidinji People during the Side event “: The risks and values of geo-referencing traditional and local knowledge” which will take in the same pavilion on Monday 17 (see below).


Pavilion event; 17 November 8:30 – 12:00, WIN & Pacific Community Dialogue Pavilion (Pavilion #2)

Title: Voices and Choices: The risks and values of geo-referencing traditional and local knowledge

Organisers: CTA and IUCN

Note: Coffee, tea and cakes will be served to participants by mid-morning
This event focuses on Participatory 3 Dimensional Modelling (P3DM) a method within the Participatory GIS family which enables communities to geo-reference and spatially document their complex systems of traditional land/seascape knowledge. The method benefits from its integration with GIS, multimedia production, Web2.0 and social media and serves multiple purposes, including landscape planning, rights advocacy, inter-generational knowledge transmission, influencing policy-making and enhancing communities’ socio-environmental resilience.

At the onset of Participatory GIS (PGIS) practice, concerns were expressed that the nature of and access to GIS would simultaneously marginalize or empower different groups in society. The practice evolved along different lines and among diverse interest groups. Currently it embraces a blend of applications ranging from Internet-based spatial multimedia to field-based participatory methods with a modest GIS component. In this fast-evolving context, there is a seemingly unstoppable excitement about georeferencing human physical, biological and socio-cultural worlds and making the information publicly available. This embodies both potentials and risks, aspects which need to be taken into consideration by knowledge holders, technology intermediaries/facilitators and researchers.

A physical 1:10,000 scale 3D model completed by the Mandingalbay Yidinji People representing a portion of their ancestral territory within the Wet Tropics World Heritage site in Queensland, Australia will be showcased at the event. Representatives from the community will share their experience in going through the various phases of the process, how they dealt with sensitive data, and their plans on how best to make use of acquired skills, knowledge and completed products (the model and derived maps) in their future endeavours.

Coordinator: Giacomo Rambaldi (rambaldi[at]cta.int)

Session within Stream 7; Tuesday 18 November 2014, 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Title: Knowledge management and technologies: Participatory 3D modelling in Protected Areas, landscapes and seascapes

Organisers: IPACC and CTA, in cooperation with Association des Femmes Peules Autochtones du Tchad, Minorités Pygmées du Gabon, and Yiaku People’s Association of Kenya, Melca Ethiopia and other indigenous peoples and local communities.

Background and summary: IPACC, African Biodiversity Network and other organisations have used Participatory 3 Dimensional Modelling (P3DM) to represent complex systems of indigenous landscape knowledge to themselves and decision-makers. P3DM, a geo-referenced and yet participatory system of knowledge representation serves multiple usages, including landscape planning, rights advocacy, inter-generational knowledge transmission and improving conservation.

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) promotes skills transfer in P3DM for indigenous peoples and local communities in Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific regions.
Oral knowledge of biological systems emerges through the methodology, associated with resource governance, rights and indigenous values. The tool provides a multi-use medium for negotiating land use, understanding customary use systems, education for sustainability, and empowering indigenous peoples as holders of expert knowledge in conservation and planning.
P3DM case studies describe a broad range of ecosystems and contexts. P3DM provides a valuable tool for intercultural understanding of diverse knowledge and land use systems relevant for Protected Areas.

Coordinators: Nigel Crawhall (nigel.tilcepa[at]gmail.com) and Giacomo Rambaldi (rambaldi[at]cta.int)




Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The film “The enabling power of participatory 3D mapping among the Saramaccan People of Suriname” launched at CWA2014

Fifty years ago, some 5000 Saramaccan people of Suriname had to leave their traditional lands along the Suriname River due to the construction of a major dam. The wounds of this transmigration are still felt today. Meanwhile, the Saramaccans who live in the Upper Suriname River area face new challenges since their territorial rights are not yet officially recognized and road infrastructure to access the area is improving. Creating a 3D model of the area that tells the inside story of their traditions and land use can help them to overcome their sense of being misunderstood by decision-makers and rediscover their voice.



The 15 min video production “The enabling power of participatory 3D mapping among the Saramaccan People of Suriname” has been launched on October 9 at the 13th Caribbean Week of Agriculture in Paramaribo, Suriname. The launch occurred during the session “Maps as media in policy processes: Bringing the 3rd dimension to the negotiating table” in the presence of representatives from the Saramaccan community.

The launch was followed by reflections done by Saramaccan representatives Mr Godfried Adjako, one of the captains of the village of Kaajapati, and Ms Debora Linga who spent her infancy with her grandparents on their farm on the shores of the Brokopondo Reservoir and later on kept visiting them in Ginginston village along the banks of the Upper Suriname River.

Mr Godfried Adjako recalled that in the process of populating the 3D model the community, especially the youth, learned a lot from the elders. “The map now shows our life, the Earth we live on, the Earth we walk on, the Earth without which we cannot live.” “We can use the map to take decisions on where to locate future developments”, he added. Both men and women contributed to the map. “Women know a lot about the surrounding of the villages, while men who use to go hunting, know the most about far away areas.”

Mr Adjako stated that when developing the legend ahead of the mapping exercise, the community decided to omit sensitive and confidential information. Therefore the data contained in the model and currently being digitised by Tropenbos International Suriname (TBI) should be considered as publicly available.

The P3DM process has been a discovery journey for young Debora. “In the 60’s my grandparents had to resettle because their village had been submerged by the rising waters of the Brokopondo Reservoir. They resettled along the Upper Suriname River in a village called Ginginston where I grew up. I could not understand the reason why my grandfather kept on navigating a long way along the river to reach the shores of the lake where he was growing watermelon” she said. “I discovered the reason while chatting with an elder who explained to me that transmigrating families were welcome by Saramaccan villages uphill the lake, but were granted limited access to resources. In fact they were sort of borrowing the land from people who occupied it for generations. Thus they only had access to small farming areas. In Saramaccan this is how you feel: they were living on somebody else’s land.”

Monday, October 13, 2014

Farmers and Indigenous Peoples in Palawan denounce controversial oil palm business

A web-press release by CALG (Coalition against Land Grabbing)

What development, for whom and what purposes, how and where, and with what implications? These are only some of the many questions raised by the people affected by oil palm development in Palawan's UNESCO declared Man and Biosphere Reserve, the most valuable ecological sanctuary in the entire Philippines.  

On 29 September, a delegation composed of farmers’ and indigenous peoples’ has handed over to Palawan Vice-Governor Dennis Socrates, a petition signed by more than 4,200 individuals calling for a moratorium on oil palm expansion province-wide.

The group belonging to the newly established Coalition against Land Grabbing (CALG) said that, in addressing  rural poverty, the Government of Palawan should focus on concrete and sustainable plans to improve production on farmers’ land, rather than pushing for massive oil palm plantations.   As oil palm expansion continues unabated, the household economy of small farmers and indigenous peoples is now breaking apart.  “We are being strangled by huge debts with both Agumil Philippines, Inc (the major oil palm company) and the LandBank  (the key financer) and our land titles are being withhold by the bank  as a collateral” says Welly Mandi (CALG’s secretary).

“The expansion of oil palm plantations in Palawan is a blatant example of companies defying international law, state laws and the rights of communities through the connivance of unscrupulous and short-sighted government officials” says Marivic Bero (CALG’s Secretary General).  One can only speculate why the Government of Palawan remains passive while huge expanses of land, forest and fertile grounds of the “last Philippine Frontier” have been given  away for agribusinesses. But, at least, we know the official explanation: oil palms are only planted on ‘idle’ and ‘abandoned’ land to enhance the province’s economy while increasing job opportunities and transforming unused areas in productive plantations.

But are such lands really ‘idle’ and ‘abandoned’?  A recent study carried out by ALDAW (Ancestral Land/Domain Watch) with the support of the Non-Timber Forest-Exchange Programme  and the Broederlijk Delen, has clearly proven the contrary. The study argues that most of these so called 'idle' and 'unproductive' lands include areas that have been used since time immemorial by IPs societies.   “The removal of natural vegetation and of previous agricultural improvements by oil palm plantations is leading to the total collapse of traditional livelihoods, thus fostering communities’ impoverishment and increasing malnutrition” says Dr. Dario Novellino, an anthropologist of the Centre for Biocultural Diversity of the University of Kent (UK) who has lived in Palawan over a period of almost 30 years.
He sustains that what the Government has failed to consider is that most of the so called ‘idle’ and ‘underdeveloped’ lands include areas that are being utilized by the rural and indigenous populations for different purposes (gathering of non-timber forest products (NTFPs), medicinal plants, swidden cultivation, etc.  He believes that a direct relationship exists between oil palm expansion, the impoverishment of people’s diet, the progressive deterioration of traditional livelihood and the interruption of cultural transmission related to particular aspects of people’s local knowledge.

ALDAW - NTFP-EP supported reesearch  shows that the disappearance of useful plant species due to oil palm expansion is extremely alarming.  For instance, in one particular area of Barangay Iraan (Municipality of Rizal), local indigenous informants claim that, because of oil palm development, at least 145 species have completely disappeared from the areas where these were traditionally gathered.  The study also indicates that, in some oil palm impacted communities, the most common plant species used in basketry have dramatically declined. Overall, if massive land conversion for oil palm plantation will be allowed to continue, this may cause the additional exhaustion of plant material and fibers which are essential to sustain people’s cultural practices, artistic expressions and daily needs.
The research suggests that the depletion of useful wild palms is directly connected to land conversion into oil palm plantations.  Palms yield multiple types of products and provide both food and cash income.  Palawan indigenous communities exploit wild plants for their edible cabbages (the tender meristematic region found in the growing tip and enclosed by leaf bases). Calamus spp. and Daemonorops spp. yield very little, but Arenga spp. and Oncosperma spp. might provide buds up to two-three kilograms. Certain palms such as bätuq (Caryota mitis), bätbat (Arenga undulatifolia), busniq (Arenga brevipes),and nangäq have been traditionally exploited for their edible starch.  Dr. Novellino argues that palm food in Palawan may still play an important role in view of the dramatic changes that people is experiencing in their livelihood (e.g. increasing crops’ failure due to attack of pests and unpredictable weather patterns).  He suggests that “there are evidences that during various El Nino events, several Palawan communities have been able to counter famine and crop failures through increasing collection of starch from both wild and cultivated species”.  It may then be anticipated that the alarming decline of starch palms caused by oil palm expansion could further deprive entire Palawan communities from an important emergency food (palm starch), thus leaving them with no food options during periods of food shortage and crops failure.

Surprisingly as it is,  oil palm expansion and massive land conversion in Palawan is taking place with no serious monitoring being done by the concerned authorities and in the absence of existing maps. This makes it is impossible to systematically determine the ownership, elevation, land classification, etc. of the areas in which oil palms are being planted. “Pushing for oil palm expansion, without a single map being produced, is an indication of the lack of commitment and concerns by both government agencies and oil palm companies” says Motalib Kemil, the Chairman of the newly established Palawan-based Coalition against Land Grabbing (CALG). So far, oil palm plantation have covered an area of about 6,000 ha. across six Municipalities in Southern Palawan and their aim is to expand to a total target area ranging between 15,000 to 20,000 hectares.

Staring from 2010 ALDAW has  used geotagging technologies to determine the impact of deforestation caused by agribusiness enterprises such as Agumil, PPVOMI, Sant Andres and CAVDEAL, a road construction company which has recently included oil palm plantations in their business.  AGPI  is 75 percent Filipino-owned and 25 percent Malaysian and works hand in hand with its sister company, the Palawan Palm and Vegetable Oil Mills Inc. (PPVOMI) that is 60 percent Singaporean and 40 percent Filipino-owned.

ALDAW geo-referenced photographs have provided clear evidence of large forest clearing perpetrated by oil palm companies (see photo 5). On 23 January 2014, in the course of joint field visit carried by ALDAW and the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) it has been ascertained that natural forest found within 19,21 ha of Alienable and Disposable Land and  within 2,69 ha of timberland has been clear cut, allegedly by Agumil in Barangay Sandoval, Municipality of Bataraza.

GPS surveys carried out by CENRO itself  have further established that oil palm plantations have encroached on virgin forest found on Alienable and Disposable Land (94.2930 ha) and on Timberland (185.2398 ha) in the Municipalities of Quezon and Rizal. Forest conversion into oil palm plantations has also occurred in other municipalities.  Interestingly enough, Agumil Philippines Inc and its sister company PPVOMI have never received  ‘tree cutting permits’  from the DENR  and thus their operations have flagrantly violated the DENR forestry code and, in particular Executive Order no.23 (the nationwide ban on the cutting of trees in natural and residual forest).

“All of this has allowed to happen because widespread [...], lack of coordination between agencies of government, failure and incompetence of government officials to ensure laws compliance, lack of accountability and transparency of agribusiness enterprises” says Marivic Bero, CALG’s Secretary General.  It would appear that Agumil and other oil palm enterprises have  bypassed, with impunity, the Strategic Environment Plan (SEP), the very law which should ensured sustainable development and environmental protection in Palawan.  This law further mandates that no development project should take place unless the proponents secure the so called SEP clearance, being issued by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD). Furthermore, according to a Memorandum of Agreement between PCSD and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) signed on December 29, 1994, the latter shall not issue an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) without the project promoter having secured a SEP clearance first.  However, as far as concerning oil palm development, evidence indicates that DENR did in fact issue several ECCs to PPVOMI  prior to SEP clearances.  The latter, instead, were never secured by PPVOMI except for a SEP clearance issued for its nursery and oil mill area (about 13 hectares only). Surprisingly, there are no SEP clearances released for the remaining thousands of hectares being converted into oil palm plantations. In so doing, the DENR has overstepped the bounds of the law that it mandates to uphold, placing Palawan’s natural and cultural heritage at great risk.

“A major problem we face” says John Mart Salunday (ALDAW activist) “is that oil palm development schemes have been highly supported by the provincial government.  As a result no government agency or department dares to openly contradict and challenge the decisions made at the level of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Government)”.  It must be pointed out that the Governor himself (a well-known supporter of agro-industry) is a member of the same family which logged Northern Palawan forest in the eighties and he is also chairing the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD).  Clearly as it appears, the absence of a credible and committed political class in Palawan (and in the Philippines as a whole)  is one of the root causes of environmental destruction and of the ongoing socio-economic marginalization experienced by  indigenous peoples and the rural masses.

Oil palm development in the Philippines is bound to  become a major issue.  The country, in fact, aspire to become one of the key exporters of oil palm kernels and palm oil in Southeast Asia, after Malaysia and Indonesia. Indeed, this is not such a remote possibility, considering that, recently, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje has proposed the conversion of some 8 million hectares of ‘idle’, denuded and unproductive lands across the country into oil palm plantations.

The present trend suggests that more land conversion into oil palm plantations will lead to decreasing households food self-sufficiency and increasing malnutrition.  In this respect, Sofronio Espanola Municipality provides a clear example.  This Municipality has the highest percentage of land (over 45%) covered by oil palm plantations. Nevertheless it is a 4th class municipality and it is also one of the 100 poorest municipalities in the country. However, “if public-private partnership had been based on fairness and transparency, it could have play an important role in supporting our farmers in Palawan who have no capital to develop their land” says CALG’s secretary Welly Mande. Instead, local food  security is being sacrificed in the name of oil palm development.   “If the government is serious about ensuring the welfare of its constituents” adds Mande “ it should enhance the capability of small holding farmers to compete and produce enough food, rather than becoming indebted with the Agumil company and  Landbank”.

A cursory look at the so called Production Technical Marketing Agreement (PTMA) entered between farmers’ cooperatives and the Agumil shows the enormous  asymmetry of power between the former and the company.  For instance PTMA Section 1.14 recites that: If the cooperatives mismanage the operation they shall “…hand over the management to AGPI…".  A former cooperative chairman explains that 'mismanagement' must  be interpreted here as the inability of farmers to produce the required quantity of fresh fruit bunches per hectare, e.g. as the failure to meet  the company's own production expectations and projections. In short ‘underproduction’ and partial crop failure are regarded by Agumil as sufficient reasons for taking over the management of the land and for taking away from cooperatives all decision-making power.

When agri-business enterprises enter indigenous territories, local communities have no capacity to deal with such forces which are powerful and invasive.  Many indigenous communities, due to lack of background knowledge, tend to believe in the corporations’ promises of a prosperous future (e.g. free medical assistance, livelihood projects,  big and quick profits. etc) and they simply sign what they should never sign.  However, in recent months, indigenous peoples and farmers in Palawan have learned about the dark side of oil palm development (also with reference to Malaysia and Indonesia) through advocacy videos being shown to them by members of the Ancestral Land/Domain Watch (ALDAW).  “Thanks to the support of our partner, Rainforest Rescue, we have been able to travel for months from one community to the other sharing with people videos on the adverse impact of oil palm development”  says an  ALDAW activist, “the people we have mobilized have become aware of the risks, and we hope they will refrain from entering into future memorandum of agreements with oil palm firms”.

For more information:

ALDAW Network aldaw.indigenousnetwork@gmail.com and the Coalition against Land Grabbing (CALG) calgpalawan@gmail.com