Thursday, December 18, 2008

Digital Mapping Advocacy Project - Call for Volunteers

The Philippines is one of the 17 countries in the world with the richest biodiversity. In March 2006, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo called for a revitalization of mining nation-wide. As of the present, approved mining claims already cover almost half a million of hectares of land. Open-pit and strip mining for nickel results in the flattening of mountain tops, in the plundering of forest and in the production of vast amounts of tailings that contaminate freshwater sources and the sea.

Recently, from a premiere tourist destination, Palawan - the richest biodiversity hot spot in the country - has become one of the most attractive mining investments destinations.

The island is part of the "Man and Biosphere Reserve" program of UNESCO and hosts 49 animals and 56 botanical species found in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. As of now, there are more than 300 mining applications also covering forested watersheds and protected areas customarily managed by indigenous communities belonging to three main ethnic groups: Pälawan, Tagbanua and Batak. The other communities affected are fisher folks and farmers. A mission of the Centre for Biological Diversity (CBCD) of the University of Kent (UK) with the support of the Christensen Fund (TCF) and of the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) visited Palawan between July and September 2008. Audiovisual documentation on the impact of mining, including interviews and discussions with indigenous people, farmers, NGOs representatives and politicians was acquired.

Initial plans were discussed with relevant stakeholders on how to bring the case of Palawan to international attention. As a result of these discussions, a request has been made to Peoples and Plants International (PPI) -- a US based non-profit organization - to provide additional expertise and institutional backing to this project, while establishing linkages with Google Earth Outreach .
We are now inviting volunteers experienced in working with Google Earth and interfacing it with Google Docs to help us developing an awareness raising layer. Geo-coded data compiled on the ground in the form of multimedia, images and reports and other data like the boundaries of mining applications, protected areas, and other should be visualized on Google Earth.

The resulting mashup would serve to raise awareness among a wider international audience, on the impact of mining on the forest environment and 'traditional' communities of Palawan Island.

This is to facilitate connections and networking between global advocacy initiatives and locally grounded efforts. It is expected that this project will ultimately lead to more effective strategies for opposing irresponsible mining, while amplifying the impact of Palawan grass-root and indigenous people's voices both nationally and internationally.

Interested volunteers should send an e-mail to:

Source: PPgis.Net list

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