Sunday, January 31, 2010

CyberTracker releases a sample database for Disaster Relief Rapid Surveying

Cape Town, South Africa. A sample database for Disaster Relief can be downloaded and modified for specific relief efforts from the CyberTracker Conservation website
The CyberTracker software can be installed on GPS-enabled Windows Mobile smartphones.

This may help to gather crucial data required to co-ordinate disaster relief logistics.
One of the critical problems in disaster relief management is the lack of reliable data on basic needs on the ground after a major natural disaster. Disaster relief efforts must overcome serious logistical problems due to poor communication and unreliable information. Gathering good quality data on the ground will make it possible to make informed decisions on where the highest priorities are.

Better information on quantities of relief supplies needed, such as medicines, food, blankets, shelter and clothing will ensure that resources are used more efficiently where they are needed most.

Source: Louis Liebenberg, CyberTracker Conservation

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Indigenous People’s Exchanges Amongst Philippines and Peru Promoted by CBCD and ALDAW

Through A Christensen Fund grant “Linking Networks on Pastoralism and Mobile production systems”, Dario Novellino (research at the Centre for Biocultural Diversity (CBCD) of the University of Kent and CEESP member) has facilitated the establishment of solidarity links between the indigenous communities of Palawan and those of Madre de Dios (Peru) who have resisted and are resisting mining for more than two decades.

The establishment of this linkage took place right at the time when indigenous peoples of the Amazonian Peru had began various forms of open resistance against hydrocarbon extraction in their traditional territories. The solidarity link between the IPs of Peru and Palawan is being consolidated through the collaboration of the Ancestral Land/Domain Watch (ALDAW), the Peoples and Plants International (PPI) and, specifically, through the personal efforts of Dr. Miguel Alexiades (CBCD staff and PPI co-director). Such exchange promotes the sharing of experiences as a way of 1) fostering reflection and joint actions through the establishment of strategic alliances; and 2) addressing common problems regarding indigenous links, rights and claims over ancestral homelands and cultural landscapes.

The envisaged goal is to enable the production of jointly produced video materials that could be used to exert pressure at a national and international policy level.

Julio Cusurichi, representing the indigenous organization COINBAMAD (Consejo Indigena de la Cuenca Baja de Madre De Dios) and winner of the well-known award, the Goldman Prize - arrived in the Philippines on July 2009, leaving the country after 21 days. He traveled to Palawan (Philippines) accompanied by Dr. Novellino and the ALDAW (Ancestral Domain/Land Watch) staff. In Palawan, local indigenous organizations (Bangsa Palawan Philippines and NATRIPAL) facilitated the dialogue between Julio and different Palawan communities, while Dr. Novellino helped in the simultaneous translation from Spanish to Palawan language. During his stay, Julio met many indigenous leaders and communities’ members (including women and children) and shared his experience and lessons regarding the impacts of mining and other forms of commercial extractivism upon cultural landscapes and ancestral homelands. Participatory videos showing the impact of mining and oil extraction in Madre de Dios (Peru) have been shown also to the most isolated Palawan communities.

Through Julio’s visit, a process of direct exchange between grassroots indigenous mobilization in Madre de Dios, Peru and local indigenous anti-mining movements in Palawan has been initiated. Before Julio’s departure, this collaboration has been formalized in a Memorandum of Understanding. Video shootings made by Julio Cusurichi in Palawan have been taken back to Peru and will be shown to the Amazonian indigenous communities. A cross-visit of Palawan representatives to the Peruvian Amazon has been planned for the year 2010.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Counter-mapping in the Philippines: The Gantong Geo-Tagged Report

On July 2009, a mission led by the Philippine-based Ancestral Land/Domain Watch (ALDAW) and the Centre for Biocultural Diversity (CBCD) at the University of Kent traveled to the eastern side of the Gantong range, in Brooke’s Point Municipality, Province of Palawan. Palawan 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.

The mission’s actual ‘matching’ of collected GPS data to photographs shows that the Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA) of two mining firms [MacroAsia and Celestial Nickel Mining and Exploration Corporation (CNMEC) now operated by Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC)] overlap with precious watersheds endowed with numerous creeks, springs and waterfalls providing potable water to the local indigenous communities and lowland farmers. More importantly, under the ECAN Guidelines of the Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan (Republic Act 7611), such areas constitute the so called “core zones” of maximum protection where industrial extractive activities are not allowed.

At an altitude of about 500m ASL the mission reached indigenous settlements inhabited by very traditional Palawan having limited contacts with the outside. Their sustenance totally depends on the available forest resources, and it consists of a heterogeneous economy where sustainable swidden cultivation is integrated with foraging and the collection of non-timber forest products (NTFPs).

Overall, the mission moved from an elevation of a few meters ASL to an altitude of about 670m ASL, where one of the furthermost Palawan settlements is located. The mission’s GPS coordinates were obtained through the use of the JOBO GPS device being connected to the camera’s hot shoe. Positions were taken at intervals of several meters in order to reconstruct the mission’s full itinerary. The geo-tagged images were then loaded into ‘Photo GPS Editor’ and displayed on satellite Google map. All upland Palawan interviewed during the ALDAW/CBCD mission have declared that they have never been consulted about the entrance of mining companies in their traditional territories.

According to indigenous representatives, the Palawan branch of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) – the government body mandated to ‘protect and promote the interest and well-being of cultural communities’ – is now siding with the mining companies. It is hoped that the ALDAW/CBCD Gantong geo-tagged report will facilitate the circulation of information, at both the national and international levels, on the threats faced by ‘irresponsible mining’ in the Philippines’ “last frontier”. An international campaign to support indigenous Palawan claims to their ancestral land has also been initiated by Survival International.


The ALDAW NETWORK (Ancestral Land/Domain Watch) is an advocacy-campaign network of Indigenous Peoples jointly constituted by NATRIPAL (United Tribes of Palawan) and BANGSA PALAWAN PHILIPPINES (Indigenous Alliance for Equity and Wellbeing) on August 2009.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Peter Poole traces the evolution of participatory map-making

In this interview, Dr. Peter Poole traces the evolution of a participatory map-making which commenced with the introduction of GPS to the Inuits in 1989 and evolved throughout the 1990s via a series of 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 processes. Peter describes the search for cheap, simple, appropriate geomatic technology. Community-based teams would gather raw field data and indigenous associations or support NGOs, set up mapping units to serve the field teams.

Three lessons are described: (i) communities can make their own scaled maps, (ii) emerging mapping centres should make their services accessible to all communities, (iii) this methodology not only produces a tenure map, but also equips and inspires community mappers to diversify their skills in environmental information management.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Bulanjao Geotagged Report

On August 2009, a mission led by the Philippines-based Ancestral Land/Domain Watch (ALDAW) and the Centre for Biocultural Diversity (CBCD) at the University of Kent traveled to Barangay Sumbiling, Municipality of Bataraza, Province of Palawan (Philippines).

Geo-referenced audio-visual and photographic documentation was carried out in the Bulanjao range whose vegetation consists of a very unique type of forest growing on ultramafic /heavy-metal rich soils. The area is home to at least four plant species that are classified as vulnerable and two of them have already been included in the IUCN Red List.

In spite of its unique ecological features, the Bulanjao range has been subjected to mineral exploration and development by the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC). RTNMC is a Filipino-Japanese partnership holding a mining concession area of about 5,265 hectares.

RTNMC and its partner, Coral Bay Nickel Corporation (CBNC), need to mine nickel ores as part of the expansion of their new Hydrometallurgical Processing Plant (HPP) project. However, one the conditions specified in the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) issued to them in 2002, is that “core zones” - as identified by the Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan (Republic Act Republic Act 7611) should not be included in the areas of mining operations and, this, of course includes the Bulanjao range.

Starting at an elevation of about 40m ASL, the ALDAW/CBCD mission followed the mining road to reach the highest portions of the Bulanjao range. Geo-tagging evidence indicates that erosion on the Bulanjao mining road is occurring also at low elevations. During the rainy season the water creates deep clefts on the roadsides, hence penetrating the soil and fostering road collapse. No mitigating measures have been put into place to reduce erosion. A huge crater-like excavation has been found at 566m ASL. and land slides, induced by road construction, have been documented around the sources of the Sumbiling river, at almost 900m ASL. The latter is the most important water source for both lowland farmers and indigenous communities.

Marylin Samparan, a local IP living in the area told the mission: “time will come when our children will no longer recognize the names of trees, the footprints of animals, the birds’ songs. This will be the time when the forest will be gone, the mining companies will be gone, the rivers will no longer flow…and us? We will still be here”.

On 15 August 2009, the mission established that mining road had already reached an altitude of 859m ASL – and its exact location was defined through the following GPS coordinates (+ 8.59322548 N Latitude and + 117.36516571 E Longitude).

Mission’s findings have now been compiled into a geo-tagged report, which is being used by local indigenous communities to support their legal struggle against mining in Bulanjao.


The ALDAW NETWORK (Ancestral Land/Domain Watch) is an advocacy-campaign network of Indigenous Peoples jointly constituted by NATRIPAL (United Tribes of Palawan) and BANGSA PALAWAN PHILIPPINES (Indigenous Alliance for Equity and Wellbeing) on August 2009.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What 3-D mapmakers should know about expanded EVA / PE closed-cell foam or sponge

Expanded EVA / PE closed-cell foam or sponge is usually made out of a blend of Ethylene Vinyl Acetate copolymer (also known as EVA) and polyethylene. The product is a lightweight foam material which has a smooth surface and does not absorb water. Generally EVA sheeting is priced competitively, compared with other blown materials and is available in different densities, thicknesses and colours.
It is one of the materials most popularly known as expanded rubber or foam rubber sheeting.
EVA foam is used to produce - among others - mouse pads, flip flops and sports mats. Sheets of the material can be used for manufacturing Participatory 3D Models.
Models made out of this material are well suited for humid tropical environments where carton board may deteriorate rapidly.
Manufacturing a 3D model using 'expanded EVA / PE closed-cell foam' compared to carton board implies a slightly higher cost and non biodegradable debris, but ensures a more durable output and a consistent vertical scale/exaggeration of the 3D model. Insertion of map and push pins is easy.

More information on the topic is found here.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Interview with Steve deRoy about the role of networking and communication in PGIS practice

In this interview, Mr. Steven DeRoy illustrates the power of networking and the importance of integrating this practice into the daily realm of PGIS. These professional exchanges create an opportunity to dialogue with likeminding professionals, allowing practitioners to share ideas and approaches to solve common challenges. Maps also play a vital role in communicating ideas amongst different parties and for advocating change in current affairs

Google Earth Outreach initiative in Africa

Google Earth Outreach in Africa was recently launched with the objective of enabling non-profit and public benefit organizations in the continent to access the knowledge and resources they need to organize their data, build their maps, tell their stories through geographic visualization.

Google Earth and the various Google Geo Tools are increasingly used for communication and advocacy because of their unique ability to visually connect people to places.

By annotating Google Earth and Maps with pictures and information, organizations can tell visual and compelling stories of the work they do to the over 500 million Google Earth users.