Friday, November 13, 2009

Peter Poole reports on his experience with community mapping

In this interview, Peter Poole traces the evolution of a map-making methodology which commenced with his introduction of GPS to the Inuit community of Pangnirtung in 1989 and was incubated throughout the 1990’s by a series of ‘tenure mapping’ projects in the Amazon the Arctic and Asia. Tenure maps depict indigenous names, resources and special places on scaled maps, intended as evidence in negotiating land settlements.

Most tenure mapping methods rely upon external cartographic expertise. The “no-name” method enables communities to control the complete information cycle: gathering raw data, their conversion to information, its application.

The interview describes the search for cheap, simple, appropriate geomatic technology.

During several tenure mapping projects in the Amazon, a two-tier arrangement evolved whereby community-based teams would gather raw field data, the most critical task, and indigenous associations or support NGO’s, set up mapping units to serve the field teams.

The interview shifts focus to an overview of global community mapping completed by Peter Poole. In this, he concluded that, in terms of expertise, accessibility and accomplishment, the Philippines. He also drew a broad distinction to tenure mapping in America, a continent whose indigenous peoples sharing a in common ‘500 years since Columbus’ experience, and Africa, where this model does not work and where community mapping is taking off in a refreshing variety of directions.

The interview concludes with three lessons learned:
  • Yes, communities can make their own scaled maps.
  • The most successful of emerging mapping centres are those whose services are accessible to all communities.
  • This capacity-building approach to map making equips and inspires people to diversify their skills in environmental information management. These skills will be wasted unless provisions are made to follow up tenure mapping projects with either further training or employment.

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