Sunday, December 25, 2011

Participatory 3D Modelling - Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks, Uganda

In 2009 a group of Batwa representatives from Uganda travelled to Ogiek communities in Kenya to learn about their situation and the different advocacy strategies they were using. One of these strategies was the use of Participatory 3-Dimensional Modelling (P3DM), which helped the Ogiek engage Kenyan agencies on their rights to their ancestral territory, the Mau Forest. The Batwa walked away from this visit impressed by the simplicity of the P3DM technique and hopeful of replicating it in their own context.

Two years later in June 2011, the Batwa, with support from the ARCUS Foundation, began their own three-dimensional modelling of their ancestral territory, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.  More than 100 representatives from the Batwa communities surrounding Bwindi, including youth, elders, women and men attended the exercise over a three-week period.

Uganda's first Participatory Three-Dimensional Modelling Project was organised in 2011 in Kisoro by the Batwa, former hunter-gatherers who were evicted from two national parks 20 years ago.

More information:


Friday, December 23, 2011

Mapping with Drupal: Navigating Complexities to Create Beautiful and Engaging Maps

Mapping with Drupal is a concise guide shows you how to create custom interactive maps from top to bottom, using Drupal 7 tools and out-of-the-box modules.

You’ll learn how mapping works in Drupal, with examples on how to use intuitive interfaces to map local events, businesses, groups, and other custom data.

Although building maps with Drupal can be tricky, this book helps you navigate the system’s complexities for creating sophisticated maps that match your site design.
  • Get the knowledge and tools you need to build useful maps with Drupal today.
  • Get up to speed on map projections, the ethics of making maps, and the challenges of building them online
  • Learn how spatial data is stored, input by users, manipulated, and queried
  • Use the OpenLayers or GMap modules to display maps with lists, tables, and data feeds
  • Create rich, custom interactions by applying geolocation
  • Customize your map’s look and feel with personalized markers, map tiles, and map popups
  • Build modules that add imaginative and engaging interactions
Mapping with Drupal: Navigating Complexities to Create Beautiful and Engaging Maps

By Alan Palazzolo, Thomas Turnbull
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Release: December 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Climate Conversations - Combining traditional knowledge and climate science in Chad

Bouba Mal Yaya is a herdsman from the Fulani-Mbororo peoples in Chad. Along with his fellow herders, he had been expecting good grazing for his cattle this year but this has not been the case.

He is confused and frustrated. He had always been able to rely on his people’s age-old knowledge of their ecosystem to sustainably manage grazing. This traditional knowledge has been used by his people to develop strategies to cope with seasonal weather patterns and manage their meagre resources.
The community has typically looked to the elders for predictions on rainfall distribution, drought and other seasonal patterns. Now, it would appear that the reliability of their prediction is undermined by increasingly unpredictable weather and climate conditions. Their livelihoods and future as a culture are under threat.
The cause? Climate change.
Mbororo herders travel over great distances to graze their livestock. The impact of climate change has reduced the capacity of their traditional grazing lands with droughts and dwindling resources pushing them to herd their livestock further afield.
Some have lost their stock and have been forced to change their way of life, becoming semi-nomadic or sedentary. These lifestyle changes are not easy, and the pastoralists experience extreme hardship and loss of culture. The decreasing reliability of the elders’ predictions has had an impact on their trustworthiness within the community, further destabilising life for these people.
The situation is frustrating for everyone involved, especially considering that information which could help the pastoralists maintain their traditional way of life is already at hand. Climate change experts use modern monitoring and forecasting systems to generate a vast amount of information on past, present and future climate scenarios at international, regional and national scales.
The difficulty arises in communicating this information to grassroots level in a language that the people understand and that takes account of their traditional knowledge, prediction methods and existing local approaches to decision-making.
In a bid to adapt to the changing conditions and maintain their customary way of life, the Mbororo peoples are coming together with other pastoralists, meteorologists and African policy makers.
They share information relating to traditional and scientific knowledge and outline their needs. They also look at how to improve the exchange of data, knowledge and information needed to improve policy making to boost resilience to climate change at grassroots level.
Thanks to the contributions of the pastoralists, climate change experts are developing a greater understanding of traditional knowledge. This will enable them to package their information in a more manageable and user friendly way for the local community.
By making use of innovative information and communications technologies and participatory mapping techniques pastoralists hope to provide scientists with valuable insights into local weather and climate patterns and reporting on the impact of climate change. This essential data will enrich the information base available for research and analysis, ultimately developing more nuanced and locally accurate weather forecasts.
This data can then be used by the pastoralists to adapt as necessary to the changing conditions without having to abandon their way of life. Involving indigenous communities like the Mbororo in this process also paves the way for the creation of inclusive and more successful policy.
National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) for climate change will have greater value if they recognise the authoritative nature of traditional knowledge.
As part of this process, a meeting was hosted in November 2011 by the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee (IPACC), the Association des Femmes Peules Autochtones du Tchad (AFPAT)  and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA). At the meeting, indigenous people’s representatives from Chad, Niger, Kenya, Namibia and South Africa gathered with meteorologists to discuss these concerns.
In particular, they looked at how traditional knowledge of pastoralism and atmospheric science can be combined to respond to climate change risks. Their findings reinforced the need for both groups to work together to share information, data and knowledge, tackling the climate change issue together.
In follow up to the meeting, a participatory mapping exercise will take place on the edge of Lake Chad in the spring of 2012. By coming together with the experts and policy makers to build a Participatory 3-D model (P3DM) of their land, the two communities aim to bridge the gap between traditional contributions to the understanding of climate change on a local scale and scientific approaches to the challenge involving everyone in this activity.
This is a first for the pastoralist and scientific community. Neither group can solve the climate change problem alone. Together they can make a lasting difference for science and for a traditional way of life.

Read more:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Participatory 3D Modelling in Chamkar Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan

BHUTAN, 10 October, 2011 - On the special request of Honorable Minister Dr. Pema Gyamtsho, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF), Bhutan, three staff members from MENRIS, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) visited Bhutan to organize a training workshop and built a Participatory 3D Model (P3DM) in joint collaboration of MoAF, Bhutan and ICIMOD's Mountain Environment and Natural Resource Information System (MENRIS) at Ugyen Brown Swiss Farm, Chamkhar Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan.

The workshop was officially started through a meeting which was held at Bumthang on 17 September, 2011. The meeting was chaired by the Honorable Minister and other attendants were Member of Parliament, Governor of Bumthang Zongkhak, Senior Leaders and Media persons. In the meeting, Minister highlighted the importance of P3DM for the development of Bumthang and he also briefed about the expectations from the model. Further, the location for the P3DM was also decided to build at Ugyen Brown Swiss Farm, which was near by the newly being constructed airport. In the meeting, on behalf of ICIMOD team Mr. Govinda Joshi gave presentation on about P3DM.

The workshop participants have been from different institutes, organizations and communities. All together there were 47 participants. However, there were maximum participants not more than 20 on a day. The background of participants ranges from students to officials to government representatives to local community people and so on. The coordination was very good hence the work progress was very much according to the schedule. After completing the P3DM closing a ceremony was held in presence of Bumthang Governor, senior leaders, local community, training participants, and media. During the closing ceremony Mr. Govinda Joshi gave a presentation highlighting the construction process of P3DM with outline of the training/workshop and acknowledgement for the support from participants.  There were also certificate distributed to the training/workshop participants who participated for the entire duration.  The P3DM was then formally handed over to the Governor of Bumthang Dzongkhak.

According to ICIMOD Participatory 3-dimensional modelling (P3DM) is gaining importance as a tool to understand geographical dimensions at a local level in support of community-based local level planning and decision-making. The Bumthang model represents a typical Himalayas mountain landscape. The exercise involved the local community drawn from a cross-section of Bumthang settlements.

The model took about two weeks to complete and is now displayed in the Ugyen Wangchuk Institute
complex at Brown Swiss Farm, Bathpalathang, Chamkhar Valley, Bumthang.

Source: ICIMOD, Mountain Geoportal

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Traditional Forest-Related Knowledge: Sustaining Communities, Ecosystems and Biocultural Diversity

Exploring a topic of vital and ongoing importance, Traditional Forest Knowledge examines the history, current status and trends in the development and application of traditional forest knowledge by local and indigenous communities worldwide.

It considers the interplay between traditional beliefs and practices and formal forest science and interrogates the often uneasy relationship between these different knowledge systems.The contents also highlight efforts to conserve and promote traditional forest management practices that balance the environmental, economic and social objectives of forest management. It places these efforts in the context of recent trends towards the devolution of forest management authority in many parts of the world.

The book includes regional chapters covering North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Australia-Pacific region. As well as relating the general factors mentioned above to these specific areas, these chapters cover issues of special regional significance,  such as the importance of traditional knowledge and practices for food security, economic development and cultural identity.  Other chapters examine topics ranging from key policy issues to the significant programs of regional and international organisations, and from research ethics and best practices for scientific study of traditional knowledge to the adaptation of traditional forest knowledge to climate change and globalisation.

"Forestry, the oldest of the resource management sciences, has been coming under pressure in recent years to incorporate multiple values. Traditional Forest-Related Knowledge is remarkable for its comprehensive coverage of world regions and 'hot' topics such as globalization, climate change and research ethics. It is a unique book, marking a breakthrough with its authoritative treatment of alternative sources of knowledge and multiple perspectives, and contributing to a paradigm change in forest management."

Traditional Forest-Related Knowledge: Sustaining Communities, Ecosystems and Biocultural Diversity

Parrotta, John A.; Trosper, Ronald L. (Eds.)
2012, 2012, XXVI, 621 p. 77 illus., 58 in color.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Voice of the Ogiek (video)

In 2006 a little known ethnic group – called the Ogiek - created a three-dimensional map of their ancestral land in Kenya. In the past members of this indigenous community were regarded as second class citizen. Today, their story has gained international recognition. The Kenyan government is increasingly listening to their voice and including them in a dialogue over the future of their community and of the Mau Forest.

This is the story of how the Ogiek found their voice …

For more information on the case visit:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Results of High Level Round Table on Pastoralism, Traditional Knowledge, Meteorology and Implementation of Policies of Climate Adaptation

N’DJAMENA, 9 November 2011 - Following the two-day conference on adaptation, a high level panel of two Chadian Ministers and representatives of national and international expert technical agencies contributed to a round table dialogue on adaptation and pastoralism.

The high level panel listened to a report back from African pastoralists on their recommendations and observations, and then took the floor to share their perspectives on key questions related to indigenous pastoralists, traditional knowledge, meteorology and platforms of adaptation policy and implementation. The session was chaired by Mme Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, member of the IPACC Executive Committee and Director of AFPAT. Mme Oumarou Ibrahim welcomed contributions from the respective Ministers and members of the high level round table in response to the indigenous peoples’ restitution of the two day workshop.

His Excellency, the national Minister of Urban and Rural Hydrology, General Mahamat Ali Abdallah Nassour:

The Honourable Minister noted the current challenges
  • Pastoralist populations are increasing, with a steady southward migration of communities in Chad. And yet grazing lands are progressively shrinking, degrading or being used for other types of land use. How do we find a balance for sustainability in a changing and unstable context? 
  • Pastoralists have a substantial body of traditional knowledge that needs to be taken into consideration in the process of developing adaptation policies. How do we ensure a closer collaboration between pastoralists and scientists?
  • There are increasing conflicts among farmers and pastoralists. How do we ensure a peaceful cohabitation?

The opportunities for government to respond to the challenges include:
  • Adaptation requires recognition of the facts of climate change and vulnerability, and should draw on both science and traditional knowledge to find appropriate responses;
  • Scientific interaction with pastoralists is important for Chad. We are facing policy challenges in a wide range of domains, including the environment, land use, water management, and changes to the overall climate. This nexus creates increased risks of conflict, which we must avoid through effective policy making and full participation of the concerned communities, notably pastoralists;
  • Africa needs to develop adequate policies and deployment of financial resources to overcome the constraints (i.e. conflicts over scarce resources) and ensure a robust and inclusive planning and evaluation process;
  • Atmospheric sciences allow forecasting of weather and seasonal pattern. Efforts need to be made in timely sharing these information with those concerned;
  • Financing is an important element in building the national adaptation platforms. International solidarity, whether in expertise or financing remains very valuable for Least Developed Countries. Part of the challenge for Chad is to accurately cost the adaptation process, identify what national resources are currently available, and what type of gap needs to be addressed.

His Excellency, the national Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, the Honourable Dr Djime Adoum
  • Traditional knowledge must be included in science because it is itself a form of science;
  • Strongly acknowledges the value of traditional knowledge (e.g. local breeds and traditional varieties of crops are emerging as more resistant and less demanding in terms of husbandry);
  • Most food production systems, farming, pastoralism and fishing in the country are still run at subsistence levels – this reality needs to shape policy making;
  • The introduction of improved, new or hybrid varieties require additional inputs, such as more water or fertilisers, which has cost implications for communities;
  • Traditional varieties and breeds may yield less, but usually they will reliably yield some useful output even under high stress conditions. Under similar high stress conditions modern varieties / breeds may fail leaving no material benefits. The balance of new varieties and traditional varieties needs careful consideration to ensure food security;
  • By having an inclusive approach to national adaptation policy making we create a blue print for adaptive and successful implementation – we can address real challenges that the communities and scientists have jointly identified;
  • Innovative ICTs will be used to capture and document local knowledge in the framework of the project;
  • There is a difference between a drought and a famine. Famine is not always the result of droughts; it is the product of insufficient planning and preparation. 
  • National budgetary procedures need to take into consideration the inter-sectoral impact of climate change, and ensure early planning for adaptation. It is not wise to wait until a crisis unfolds before looking for resources to address it;
  • A new framework for establishing a comprehensive Management Information System (MIS) will be discussed at the Ministry before the end of the year and deployed within 2012. The system will cover different knowledge systems including traditional knowledge.
Further contributions were provided by:
  • Dr Jose Camacho, Scientific Officer, Agricultural Meteorology Division, Climate Prediction and Adaptation Branch (CLPA), Climate and Water Department (CLW)World Meteorological Organisation;
  • Dr Baba El-Hadj Mallah, Director General, Centre National d’Appui à la Recherche et Conseil (CNAR), Ministere de l’Enseignement Superieur;
  • Dr Peggy Oti-Boateng, Senior Research Fellow of the Technology, Specialist for Basic and Engineering Sciences, UNESCO (Nairobi, Kenya);
  • Mr Giacomo Rambaldi, Senior Programme Coordinator, Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA );
  • Mr Frederick Kihara, Global Environment Facility – Small Grants Projects, Kenya

These contributions are provided in the full report of the N’Djamena conference which can be downloaded from

The conference was closed by His Excellency, General Mahamat Ali Abdallah Nassour, Minister of Urban and Rural Hydrology. The Minister noted the valuable work which had been done by the delegates and looked forward to the presentation of the results at the 17th Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, due to take place in Durban, South Africa from 28 November until 10 December, 2011.

Read more:

N’Djamena Declaration on Adaptation to Climate Change, indigenous Pastoralism, Traditional Knowledge and Meteorology in Africa

Hôtel Novotel de N’Djamena, N’Djamena, Republic of Chad, 7-9 November 2011

Climate change poses one of the greatest challenges to humanity. Global warming and associated climatic changes are impacting on pastoralist peoples with increasing frequency and severity. African indigenous peoples’ delegates at the N’Djamena conference on adaptation noted first-hand experiences of droughts, flooding, dislocation of seasonal cycles, changes in the composition of grazing lands, and changes in accessibility and quality of water.

Indigenous herders from five African countries (Chad, Niger, Kenya, Namibia and South Africa) attended a two-day conference in N’Djamena Chad to share with each other and with meteorologists about how traditional knowledge and climate science can be combined to respond to current threats and risks. The conference also considered the need for effective participation of indigenous peoples, including herders, in national adaptation platforms and other national processes to ensure peace, sustainable livelihoods and biological conservation in the face of worsening climate instability.

Indigenous peoples’ delegates worked with the National Meteorological Services of Chad, the National Centre for Support to Research (CNAR), as well as international agencies, including the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), UNESCO, the Global Environmental Fund (GEF) – Small Grants Projects, and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation EU-ACP (CTA). The results of the workshop were shared with the Honourable Minister of Urban and Rural Hydrology, and the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation of the Republic of Chad. This declaration constitutes to the key results of the conference and the day of restitution.

Key findings included:
  • Traditional knowledge and climate science are both critically important for adaptation policy and supporting resilience building of rural communities necessary to cope with climate change;
  • Traditional knowledge and climate science need to be shared to create synergies that can inform adaptation policy, monitoring and assessment. It is through a combination of both knowledge systems that we are likely to achieve better synchronisation between forecasting, anticipatory responses, appropriate governance responses and feed-back. Both knowledge systems need to be converted into media that is understandable and usable in national adaptation platforms and for public use;
  • Climate change amplifies social and economic vulnerability, with the risk of serious conflict and poverty. An essential element of climate adaptation is ensuring good governance, human rights and social equity to maintain local, national and regional harmony during times of stress;
  • The United Nations’ Cancún Adaptation Framework, the National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) may be best effected through well designed and funded national adaptation platforms;
  • National adaptation platforms need to include a diverse range of rural and urban communities, with particular attention to participatory approaches to facilitate the contributions of pastoralists, hunter-gathers, farmers and fisherfolk. 
  • National adaptation platforms need to facilitate a two-way flow of ideas, information and strategies for resilience building and equitable sharing of costs and benefits. The inputs to and outputs from the platforms need to be meaningful and relevant. 
Conference summary

Pastoralism evolved in Africa specifically as an adaptive response to climate and environmental conditions which limited the expansion of agriculture. Pastoralism has co-evolved as diverse cultural and economic systems within ecological niches around Africa. The result has been millennia of managing sheep, camels and cattle in different ecosystems and landscapes throughout long cycles of climatic changes. Pastoralism has always been premised on the need to maintain biodiversity as the underpinning of human and livestock well-being.

Climate change in combination with other drivers of declining biodiversity has reduced the effectiveness of pastoral societies to maintain both social harmony and biological resilience. At the same time, the reduction in agricultural capacity will likely lead to increased reliance on pastoralism and agro-pastoralism for African food security.

The N’Djamena conference and Declaration were elaborated as part of IPACC and AFPAT’s support for the Cancún Adaptation Framework, which was adopted by the 16th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, held in Cancun, Mexico in December 2010. IPACC is a contributor to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Nairobi Work Programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change (UNFCCC NWP).

IPACC and AFPAT were influenced by the World Meteorological Organisation’s World Climate Conference – 3, held in Geneva, Switzerland in 2009. IPACC and AFPAT have initiated cooperation with both WMO and the African Centre for Meteorological Application for Development (ACMAD). The CTAis a partner of IPACC, assisting with building technical, information and policy capacity. CTA and the Open Society in Southern Africa (OSISA) were the principal funders behind the N’Djamena conference. Additional conceptual and policy support has been provided by the Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems unit of the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The results of climate change include greater vulnerability of ecosystems as well as threatening human social and economic systems. Climate change is impacting negatively on health, livelihoods, peace and security. While the only answer is an urgent, robust and binding global agreement on the reduction of Green House Gas emissions, the reality is that Africa must take urgent steps to adapt to climate instability, reduce vulnerability and build resilience of both natural and human systems.

Despite the very serious risks from climate change, the N’Djamena conference delegates noted that climate change is only one element of the many challenges facing African indigenous pastoralists. Changes in land use and occupancy, different forms of pollution (e.g. radioactive pollution of aquifers), drylands deforestation, the negative impacts of extractive industries and a general decline in biodiversity across Africa are all contributing to growing poverty and vulnerability of indigenous peoples.

The following key issues and recommendations emerged from the consultations.

Knowledge Management

It was agreed by delegates that knowledge management is centrally important to successful adaptation.  Traditional Knowledge (TK) / Indigenous Knowledge Systems are valuable resources for monitoring, analysing and responding to climate change. TK has the benefit of including information on biology and ecosystems, while simultaneously locating this in a landscape approach to sustainability. TK exists in cultural systems which contribute to governance, equity, rights and stewardship responsibilities. TK thus combines knowledge with wisdom, values and social obligations. TK is itself an integration of science, skills and a normative framework for sustainable living.

Delegates noted that atmospheric (meteorological and climatic) science has much to offer rural communities including pastoralists. All participants emphasised that atmospheric science is a vitally important knowledge source that needs to be widely available to all scales of decision-makers. Climatological modelling and early warning systems can help pastoralists make informed decisions about carrying capacity, transhumance, nature conservation, water management and risk reduction.

The challenge for both systems of knowledge - traditional and scientific - is how they can be made usable for decision-makers, and how they can be used in synergy with each other to ensure a robust, shared approach to adaptation. Attention and expertise is required to facilitate the intercultural mediation of science and TK, generating understandable and usable research that helps decision-makers at local, national and regional scales.

Delegates called on African States to recognise the value of combining Traditional Knowledge along with atmospheric sciences to achieve synergies in policy making. Both systems of knowledge need to be interpreted to make them useful in adaptation planning and implementation. Delegates recommended facilitating a sustained dialogue between holders of the different knowledge systems, on-going cooperation, and effective integration of both knowledge systems in national, regional and international platforms.

Delegates noted that there is evidence that local varieties of livestock and plants appear more drought-, flood- and disease resistant than hybrid or alien species. Local varieties may have lower yield or commercial value, but their sustainability means that they provide greater security in the medium and long term. They may also be more appropriate to maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem integrity. Delegates recommended that more research funding and technical support should be provided to help protect indigenous species of plants and livestock.

Traditional knowledge does not exist independently of indigenous institutions. Valorising TK also means recognising how indigenous peoples hold, manage and innovate their knowledge systems. Traditional leaders, religious leaders, shaman, herders, oasis dwellers, metal and leather workers, traditional healers, men and women throughout the society are all important in sustaining and transmitting TK. This implies that it is not enough to have a nominal pastoralist presence in policy-making; there must be a productive interaction between State institutions, research institutions and indigenous peoples’ institutions to achieve coherence and sustainability.

New technologies, particularly information communication technology (ICTs) offer us new means by which to involve holders of traditional knowledge and the conversion of local oral knowledge into information and data which are useful for decision making at different scales. More attention needs to be given to these methods of bridging between orality and information than can feed policy processes. Cybertracker is one example of an African ICT which can assist with linking TK and valuable data required for adaptation planning and monitoring.

Delegates noted the valuable work done by the World Meteorological Organisation and African States to make meteorological services available to rural communities. Delegates encouraged State Parties and agencies to continue developing the use of appropriate technologies, such as participatory mapping, radio, and mobile devices and applications, to provide a two-way flow of climate and weather information that connects national meteorological services with rural communities.

Governance and Rights
Climate change amplifies existing social, economic and environmental problems. Part of adaptation policy making requires addressing issues of rights, equity, fiscal integrity and good governance. Continued widespread problems of corruption, discrimination and marginalisation aggravate the risk of conflicts and vulnerability. Climate change places greater pressure on all Africans, those in State agencies and civil society, to ensure compliance with principles of human rights, good governance and inclusion in decision making.

Delegates noted that discrimination against pastoralists finds its roots in colonialism and European legal biases imported into Africa. This is most evident in the problems of land tenure and resource rights of mobile peoples in Africa today. Traditionally, hunters, herders, farmers and fishing peoples had complementary land and natural resource use and tenure systems. There was coherence between rights to resources and the responsibility of communities for stewardship and conservation. This coherence of rights and responsibilities has been damaged and has not been adequately addressed in the post-colonial context. The current marginalisation of indigenous pastoralists can only be resolved by reforms to land rights, land tenure and access to natural resources legislation and practices.

Land tenure and resources rights need to be reviewed in relation to ecosystem capacity and achieving harmonious and equitable coexistence of communities who have different land use requirements. This too is part of building resilience and adapting to climate change.

IPACC members noted the value of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a new-generation international standard for promoting indigenous peoples’ rights and institutional engagement between State agencies and indigenous peoples.

Delegates noted that nature conservation is essential for subsistence economies. At the same time, exclusion from some Protected Areas has broken up indigenous territories and resulted in increased vulnerability to extreme weather and unstable climate conditions. Delegates invite State Parties to take a fresh look at the role of Protected Areas in providing remedial territories during droughts and flooding to allow pastoralists to lighten their impact on ecosystems. Protected Areas are important for conservation but should be seen within a wider scope of landscape connectivity and conservation, which includes mobile pastoralism.

The governance issue also speaks to proper assessment of equitable costs and benefits. As noted in the UNEP Green Economy Initiative, the value of rural economies and ecosystems needs to be taken into consideration before other economic decisions are made. Gross Domestic Product cannot be the sole determinant for approving new extractive industries and infrastructure projects. Environmental degradation leads to long-term vulnerability and places greater costs on State treasuries by increasing poverty, urban migration, declining food security and health and the collapse of local economies.

Where mines and tourism exist in pastoralist territories, the revenues from these ventures need to be handled transparently with benefits being shared equitably. Extractive industries need to be actively contributing to ecosystem conservation and resilience, and the costs of climate adaptation.

The value of pastoralism needs to be clearly and correctly assessed, and included in national decision making on resource and land allocations. Pastoralism is a primary livelihood for over 20 million Africans. Climate change is likely to increase this reliance on livestock, and hence pastoralism needs to be considered a core economic system in national planning.

National Platforms
Delegates noted that climate change adaptation requires coordination at global, regional and national levels. It was further noted that the key level of implementation is the creation of national platforms for adaptation policy, planning and monitoring. There are currently three adaptation instruments adopted by Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change: the National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) for least developed countries, the National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) and the Cancún Adaptation Framework (CAF). These instruments and frameworks all need to be realised through effective, well financed, and responsive national adaptation platforms.

Indigenous peoples assert their willingness to be directly involved in national adaptation platforms. The goal is to ensure that farmers, fishing communities, hunter-gatherers and pastoralists act in a harmonious and complementary manner by working together on national and local policy making, in concert with State agencies and technical bodies.

National platforms need to be inter-sectoral in character. Climate adaptation involves decisions about agriculture, lands, water, human development, housing, health, security, education, as well as including technical issues of atmospheric and biological sciences.

National Adaptation Platforms need to concentrate on two-way communication. Pastoralists need early warning of climate crises before they happen. This warning needs to be integrated into other sectoral responses, including assistance with veterinary services, the ability to slaughter surplus animals and sell the products before a full-scale crisis has emerged and animals are unable to be used commercially.

Delegates note that biodiversity and ecosystem resilience is the basis of indigenous economies and cultures. Conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services is fundamental to food security, health and sustainable living.

National Adaptation Platforms, and the related policy frameworks (e.g. the National Adaptation Programmes of Action / National Adaptation Plans) need to be equipped with participatory methods and tools to allow for effective participation by indigenous peoples and other rural communities. A centralised process which does not have its roots in real communities and real economic and environmental contexts risks missing the mark in responding to current and future needs. Africa needs to pilot innovations in participatory methodologies, new communication tools and citizen science, which in turn can be scaled up to national and regional levels of impact and effectiveness. The conference noted the valuable application of participatory mapping, citizen science, mobile phone technology, and Web 2.0 innovations in the domains of information management and communication.

National Adaptation Platforms will only be viable if they are properly funded and include commitments from the national budget. Adaptation is a lens that is relevant to budgeting and planning in all sectors. All Ministries should be contributing to the costs of adaptation planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. If Africa takes seriously its own investment in the National Adaptation Platforms, this will draw the attention and interest of international and regional donors and financial institutions that are looking to invest in robust country-driven initiatives.

Read more:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Jinchuan Chinese Investors Face and Angry Crowd of Protesters on Palawan Island (Philippines)

PUERTO PRINCESA, 11 November, 2011 - On 10 November, indigenous peoples and farmers led by people’s organizations such as ALDAW (Ancestral Domain/Land Watch) gathered in Brooke’s Point city proper to protest against the mining plans of the Jinchuan Group Ltd. The company has signed a memorandum of agreement with MacroAsia Corporation for joint investments in Palawan, estimated to reach $1 billion. The agreement was signed during President Benigno Aquino's recent state visit to China.

“While we are struggling to protect our ancestral domain from mining plundering, Pres. “Noynoy” is signing mining contracts with China.  This is all very disappointing and frustrating... in consideration of his previous statements claiming that no more mining enterprises should be allowed to operate in Palawan without the consent of local communities” said a representative of ALDAW (Ancestral Land/Domain Watch).

The 88 million tonnes of nickel ore that MacroAsia Corporation (MAC) aims at extracting lye underground in the middle of the Palawan ancestral domain.  The company intends to mine up to 1 million metric tons nickel ore a year from the untouched and magnificent tropical forest of Brooke’s Point Municipality, one of the best biodiversity hot spots in the country. Most of the extracted minerals will be exported to China.

China is the world's top producer of NPI, a low grade ferro-nickel with high iron content, and relies on imported laterite ores for NPI production. In the first seven months of 2011, the Philippines was China's second-largest supplier of nickel ore  (after Indonesia), used for the production of stainless steel,
Speaking at the “Kapihan sa Diamond Hotel,” last September, Chamber of Mines president Philip Romualdez revealed that at least four mining contracts involving nickel mining projects in Palawan and Zambales were signed during President Aquino’s recent visit to China.

Through these agreements, the Philippine Government aim at bringing in $14 billion in investments within the next five years, sacrificing, in turn, the livelihood of thousands of farmers and indigenous peoples.

On late September, MacroAsia vice-president for Mining Operations Ramon Santos made a public statement saying that he was hoping that NCIP permit would be out by October. However, Indigenous Peoples in Palawan are challenging MacroAsia latest attempt to mislead government officials and the public so it can gain access to mineral resources on indigenous ancestral lands (see previous IC coverage)

In reality, October has been a rather challenging month for MacroAsia, due to the massive consultations carried out by farmers and indigenous communities of Brookes’ Point that have clearly shown how the company has no widespread local consensus, as it allegedly claims to have obtained.  Moreover, the local Palawan communities are now in the process of preparing an Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development Protection Plan (ADSDPP) as required by the National Commission on Indigenous peoples (NCIP)   The plan will pose a challenge to endorsement of a certificate of precondition (CP) to MacroAsia by NCIP, as it will clearly demonstrate how the Palawan indigenous people, since time immemorial, has profitably and sustainably managed their forest.  As of now, this forest represents a source of livelihood and traditional sustenance for the tribes, as well as an indispensable source of potable water and irrigation for the lowland farmers.

While the ADSDPP process is moving forwards, indigenous communities, not only from Brooke’s Point but also from other municipalities, have been able to come up with a joint resolution dated 23 October and calling the Government for a serious implementation of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA law), for the cancellation of mining companies such as MacroAsia and Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC) which are encroaching on the indigenous ancestral land, and for the non-endorsement of the Certificate of Precondition (CP) by NCIP to such companies.  At the same time, on 31 October legal affidavits signed by genuine indigenous representatives of Brooke’s Point Municipality have been notarized and filed against both LEBACH and MacroAsia companies.

In addition to the partnership between Jinchuan and MacroAsia, also the Oriental Peninsula Resources Group, Inc. (OPRG) has been able to secure investments for three projects involving hydropower, coal, and nickel off-take with Yun Feng, a Chinese company that owns and controls automotive companies and parts suppliers in China. OPRG is an holding firm which has 94% equity in Citynickel, another mining company which is presently devastating tropical forest in Pulot (Municipality of Espanola) and polluting precious waterways such as the Punang, Malanap and Pulot rivers. The local people complain that the mining road is causing their rice-fields to overflow and be filled with a mixture of sand and silt coming from the mining road.

Citinickel, instead, claims to have signed a Memorandum of Agreement, on June 13 2008, in the City of Puerto Princesa City. Allegedly, such memorandum defines the specific rights and obligations of each party in the mining area, including those of the local indigenous Tagbanua and Palawan communities. The accord was an offshoot of the May 27 decision of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples to cancel a compliance certificate it earlier gave to Platinum Group Metals Corporation (PGMC) and re-issue a new one to Citinickel.

Indigenous advocate groups claim that the re-issuance should have been duly re-validated by the indigenous traditional representatives and by their communities’ members. The latter, instead, – until now – have little or no understanding of the company’s long-term plans.

In the Municipality of Brooke’s Point alone, almost 6,600 hectares of land are now being occupied by three major large-scale companies: Celestial Nickel Mining and Exploration Corporation (CNMEC) - currently being operated by Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC), MacroAsia Corporation and LEBACH.  All these companies have already engaged in exploration work and are waiting for the necessary permits to start full-scale operations.

What you can do

While local indigenous communities in Palawan are now being faced with huge interests and pressures coming from Chinese companies and investors, YOU can also support the local struggle by

Asking the Jinchuan Group ltd (JNMC) to stop their mining business in Palawan

President Wang Yongqian
Jinchuan Group LTD (JNMC)
98, Jinchuan Road
Jinchuan District
Jinchang,  737102

Fax (86-935)-8811612

JNMC US Office
Fax: 626-964-6336

Address your concerns to NCIP requesting the no-issuance of the Certificate or Preconditions to MacroAsia Corporation:
Telefax: (63 2) 373-97-65
Please also include in the Cc: and (Palawan Council for Sustainable Development - PCSD)

Kindly request President Benigno C. Aquino III (Malacañang Palace, Manila) to stop signing agreements with Chinese and foreign corporations whose operations will destroy precious environments, agricultural lands and indigenous ancestral domains

Also sign the no-2-mining-in-palawan petition launched by the Save Palawan Movement and the ALDAW Petition to stop the encroachment of mining corporations and oil palm plantations on Palawan ancestral land.

For more information watch ALDAW videos on Vimeo and  Youtube; and see ALDAW's Facebook page.

Contact the ALDAW INDIGENOUS NETWORK (Ancestral Land/Domain Watch) at:

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Mapping for Rights aims to provide easy access to accurate geographical information about the presence, land use and rights of indigenous peoples and other forest dependent communities in the Congo Basin. It is intended to enable forest communities themselves to demonstrate their presence in the forest; decision-makers and the private sector to take account of and recognise this presence; and to assist the international community in designing programmes to secure those rights and ensure that forest communities are equitable beneficiaries of future developments. The key features of the website include:

Interactive Maps. Built on a database of participatory maps (many of which the Rainforest Foundation itself has been involved in producing, this function enables forest communities to demonstrate their presence in the landscape, along with their customary uses and rights over the land. The maps enable all site users to see forest community occupation and forest usage in the context of other claims on the forest, such as logging activities and strictly protected areas. Multimedia content embedded in the maps allows for insights into the culture, livelihoods and concerns of the relevant communities;

Online Interactive Database. Authorized users can access an interactive online community map database. The database serves as a repository for participatory mapping work that has been carried out by various organisations in the region. It enables the maps shown in the Interactive Maps section to be scrutinised in more detail, and used to inform planning and policy processes, decision making and to promote effective collaboration.

Resource Portal.  Providing communities, NGOs, government agencies and others with the tools to facilitate participatory mapping.  Also search for related legal, policy, technical and other resources by theme or by country.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mapping Land, Sea and Culture: an Award-winning Participatory 3D Modelling Process in Fiji

In 2005 CTA in collaboration with a number of locally based development actors introduced a participatory mapping method known as “Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM)” in the Pacific Region. Activities took place in Levuka, the ancient capital of Fiji. Local residents were struggling with over-exploitation of their fishing grounds by foreign fishing fleets and their rich cultural heritage being hardly transmitted to the younger generations. After months of preparation and consultations on the island, the exercise took place in April 2005 involving local schools and representatives from 26 villages. Since the completion of the model residents have developed an island-wide natural- and cultural resource use management plan which was followed by 3 district management plans. Taboo (i.e. protected) marine areas have been established within the fishing grounds of 3 districts comprising 16 villages. Additional taboo areas have been set up by 10 villages on a nearby island partially included on the 3D model. In 2007 the case was granted the World Summit Award 2007 in the category e-culture and the P3DM process has been considered as one of the 40 best practice examples of quality e-Content in the world.

More information on the case is available at:

The exercise has been made possible by the coordinated effort of the Fiji Locally-Managed Marine Area (FLMMA) Network, the WWF South Pacific Programme (WWF-SPP), the Technical Centre for Agricultural & Rural Cooperation (CTA), the Native Lands Trust Board (NLTB), the National Trust of Fiji, the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of The Pacific Community (SPC), and the Lomaiviti Provincial Council of the Ministry of Fijian Affairs and Provincial Development.

How do I implement P3DM? Here is a complete handbook (EN | FR | ES).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Forest Governance 2.0: A Primer on ICTs and Governance

This recent publication explores a range of uses of information and communication technology (including PGIS) that can increase public participation and improve law enforcement and economic efficiency to strengthen governance in the forest sector.
Using the World Bank’s analytical framework for forest governance reforms, it draws on current and planned initiatives, from secondary sources and country reports.
The emphasis is on simple, low cost tools that will spur the demand and supply of good governance by increasing the engagement of key stakeholders in the reform process.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Forest Beekepers - The Ogiek People in Kenya

Source of video: Survival International - The Ogiek

Traditionally the Ogiek People were hunter-gatherers. In the last decades their forests have been cut by loggers or converted into farmland by migrant communities coming from other parts of Kenya.

More on the Ogiek is found here:

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What is Volunteered Geographic Information/Crowdsourcing?

Shawn Simpson explores the definition and use cases for volunteered geographic information in public safety and local government.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Amazon Mapping

The New Social Cartography Project of the Amazon collaborates with indigenous and other communities in Brazil to map their territories, combining traditional knowledge with scientific, legal and policy expertise. More than 100 communities have taken part so far—mapping more than a million hectares, or 2.5 million acres. This video is an example of how one map was made. Learn more by visiting the

Source: Amazon Mapping from Ford Foundation

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Interview with Leonard Odambo, President of the Indigenous Peoples Association, MINAPYGA, Ikobé, Gabon.

Leonard Odambo, President of MINAPYGA talks about how participatory mapping is supporting community rights in Gabon (in French). Second in size only to the Amazon, the Congo Basin rainforest is a vital regulator of regional climate, a carbon store of global significance and a massive reserve of biodiversity, hosting over 10,000 species of plants, 1,000 species of birds and 400 species of mammals. It is also home to up to 40 million forest dependent people including an estimated 500,000 indigenous "Pygmies", characterized by a largely hunter-gatherer, semi-nomadic existence.

For more information please visit
Read also: Redessiner sa forêt en 3D

Launch of the Participatory Mapping Project in the CAR

Emmanuel Bizot, Minister of Water, Forests, Hunting and Fishing for the Central African Republic speaks at the launch of the participatory mapping project that seeks to literally and figuratively put CAR indigenous peoples on the map.

The Minister speaks about the benefit of collaborative actions between governmental and non-governmental organisations and the need to include indigenous people in the policy-making process. He acknowledges the need to recognise and respect the rights of indigenous people over utilisation and management of the natural resources of the forests in which they live.

For more information please visit

A Participatory Video made by Chivoko Village, Solomon Islands

Conservation Story Blong Chivoko" was made by the men and women of the remote coastal village of Chivoko, accessible only by sea on the north-west tip of Choiseul Island, one of the Solomon Islands. Chivoko's tribal land is one of the last remaining intact and unlogged forests in the Solomon islands. Their reefs are important spawning sites for the grouper fish which come to lay their eggs every year for 2 months around May. Their story is an insight into the problems they are facing with increased pressure from logging companies, increasing population, declining forest and marine resources, and ensuing climate change. They provide solutions which may help other Solomon Island and other communities around the world, to also safeguard the abundance of resources for future generations to come ...

More information on a Participatory 3D Model done in Chivoko village in 2009 is available here.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

E-Book launch: Participatory GIS and Land Planning

Dr Françoise Orban-Ferauge, or Françoise to many of her friends in the Philippines, will be launching her e-book "PGIS and Land Planning: Life Experiences for People Empowerment and Community Transformation" on 23 August 2011 at the University of Saint La Salle in Bacolod City.

The book highlights the effectiveness of "participation" as the key ingredient of good Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PGIS) practice. It positively invites the reader to reflect about it through the sharing of a range of experiences and case studies. Learning from numerous applications mainly led by the author in the Philippines, this e-book aims to clarify the notions of Participatory Geography, People's Empowerment, Quadripartite Partnership, and Power Sharing, in an action-oriented research that highlights the use of GIS. The role and responsibility of the scientists are analyzed, facing the ethical challenges and the limits of the approach.

PGIS practice is about empowering ordinary people in adding value and authority to their spatial knowledge through the use of geographic information technologies and maps as a media to effectively communicate by increasingly using Web 2.0 applications and related multimedia.

Dr Orban-Ferauge was awarded the 2008 Signum Lasallanum Award for her passion and energy for co-development that bridges technology with social advancement and generates hope and synergy among many international communities and partners. She recently retired as the Head of the Department of Geography, University of Namur in Belgium but continues to actively engage with Philippine-based research organizations. At ESSC, she continues to support and actively engage with the Institute's work in upland communities and resource management.

The e-book was written in collaboration with V. Aguilar, E. Alarcon, A. Carmona, N. Daix, B. Denil, A. Ignacio, J. Martinez, M. McCall, G. Miscione, E. Olivarez, M. Pandan, G. Rambaldi, R. Teruel, and J. Verplanke.

Download a pdf version of the book.

Mediating voices and communicating realities: Using information crowdsourcing tools, open data initiatives and digital media to support and protect the vulnerable and marginalised

This report published by IDS, investigates how the next generation of information and communication technologies (ICTs) — such as open mapping and open source crowdsourcing platforms — can empower vulnerable communities and build local capacity.

It is based on an investigation of how initiatives such as Map Kibera, an online community information source based in Kenya, contribute to creating shared information resources. The empirical data also provide insights into the hurdles and opportunities facing marginalised communities using these innovative communication tools. The report also presents results from interviews of leaders of ICT initiatives deployed to support post-reconstruction efforts in Haiti.

It outlines the challenges of using ICT for development, including the need to balance short-term individual benefits with longer-term agendas and the responsibility of those in charge to build trusting relationships to diffuse tensions emerging from free information sharing.

The study highlights the role of open-source social entrepreneurs as a new development actor, and the opportunities for collaboration between development and technology practitioners. The report suggests a follow-up research agenda to build upon this initial investigation.

Click here to download the document.

Monday, September 05, 2011

The Manus MOSAIC - Participatory 3D modeling for climate change adaptation across Manus Province, Papua New Guinea

At the Manus Province Climate Change Seminar ‘Manus Way Forward’, October 2010, over 70 participants presented and shared experiences, expertise and ideas on how to adapt to climate change impacts. As part of the recommendations, representatives from the Provincial Government suggested using Participatory 3D modeling (P3DM) as a tool to help convene stakeholders and discuss province-wide responses to climate change impacts that would support and build on local efforts and scale-up impacts and opportunities.

In particular, the tool was proposed as a way to initiate discussion on a protected area network for Manus, the Manus ‘MOSAIC’. The exercise would be an initial step in outlining the spatial coverage of key ecosystem services, such as watersheds, reefs and mangroves, and representing and discussing opportunities for strengthened management of these areas under a future of climate change, and in the context of social and economic development for the province. The opportunity to involve local stakeholders from all LLG jurisdictions in this process will help develop a roadmap for the development of a Manus ‘MOSAIC’ protected area network.

Participatory 3D modelling

Participatory 3D modelling (P3DM) is a fully collaborative exercise that combines community mapping with open discussions on land-use and land-use planning scenarios.  It combines geographic precision with local, individual spatial knowledge and ‘mind-maps’ of locality and familiar settings.  During a P3DM exercise, all participants contribute to make a physical, hands-on wood-and paper model, to scale, of their community, island or area. This is typically made on a large table in the centre of a meeting hall, school or other public place. Once the model is made, then people become ‘resource persons’ and informants, and everyone will contribute to placing features and places onto the model. Key informants, such as elders and experienced fishermen or foresters, will offer their view of past events, of boundaries, of key localities and times for certain activities, and these can be discussed, and learned, by all participants.

Below is the video produced during the Solomon Islands event in February 2011.

In this way, the model is more than just a map, it is a representation of spatial knowledge of the participants, and a source of discussion and interpretation around key issues.

Proposed area of Manus to be represented by the P3DM exercise (Map by Nate Peterson, TNC)
Although one key objective of this exercise is to plan for protection and restoration of key natural features, and to plan for possible climatic changes, other issues that are important to the province and the participating communities can be discussed in the same context. Furthermore, the model and the information can be used again, and again, for collaborative discussions and planning on key development issues. Digital GIS can be extracted from the model, and vice-versa, to aid and inform future discussions.  In this way, scientific information can be easily communicated and integrated with local knowledge and understanding.

Activity overview

The P3DM exercise will take place over a two-week period, from Monday 29th August to Friday 9th September. The first week will be dedicated to constructing the blank relief model, working closely with the local high-schools schools in Lorengau to allow students the opportunity to have a hands-on lesson in geography. It will also allow those participants interested in training / learning how to carry out a P3DM the opportunity to get involved.

The second week will concentrate on making the blank model come alive. Participants from all areas of Manus, and with all technical and local backgrounds, will discuss and add information to the model, including point data (features such as houses, schools, waterfalls, caves etc), line data (roads, streams, rivers, tracks, paths, boundaries, fences, cables, runways etc) and area data (polygons, such as mangroves, forest concession areas, reef flats, beaches, airports etc). Local knowledge on boundaries and features from participants from each part of Manus will contribute to an overall local picture of the province. Official and technical data can also be cross-referenced with local understanding, and represented on the model.

Towards the end of the second week, a facilitated discussion will focus on key issues, including ecosystem services and existing and proposed protected areas; current and proposed development activities (mining, forest concessions, urban and commercial expansion); and information related to predicted climate change impacts.

Future discussions on the proposed Manus MOSAIC protected area network can build on this initial analysis and use the 3D model for further participatory mapping.

General objectives of the Manus MOSAIC P3DM:

The P3DM exercise will enable all participants:
  • To learn and understand Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in an open, hands-on and accessible way
  • To participate in spatial planning for their own area as well as for the whole province
  • To identify planned developments and trends in land-use change, and assessing the impacts of these changes on key ecosystem services
  • To open a discussion on climate change impacts and how to integrate adaptation into spatial planning at local and provincial scales
  • To discuss management and protection measures for key ecosystem services in the context of scaling-up beyond local efforts to ensure the best network of connectivity in conservation and adaptation efforts for the whole province
Author: James Hardcastle, The Nature Conservancy
Source: Eldis Communities | blog

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Community managed forests and forest protected areas: An assessment of their conservation effectiveness across the tropics

This paper assesses the role of protected and community managed forests for the long term maintenance of forest cover in the tropics. Through a meta-analysis of published case-studies, we compare land use/ cover change data for these two broad types of forest management and assess their performance in maintaining forest cover.
Case studies included 40 protected areas and 33 community managed forests from the peer reviewed literature. A statistical comparison of annual deforestation rates and a Qualitative Comparative Analysis were conducted. We found that as a whole, community managed forests presented lower and less variable annual deforestation rates than protected forests. We consider that a more resilient and robust forest conservation strategy should encompass a regional vision with different land use types in which social and economic needs of local inhabitants, as well as tenure rights and local capacities, are recognized.
Further research for understanding institutional arrangements that derive from local governance in favor of tropical forest conservation is recommended.

Authors: Porter-Bolland, L.; Ellis, E.A.; Guariguata, M.R.; Ruiz-Mallén, I.; Negrete-Yankelevich, S.; Reyes-García

Journal Title:  Forest Ecology and Management

Download paper!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mapping Winnemem Sacred Sites

Mt. Shasta, California, North America - July 12, 2011

Maps tell stories, and control of the printing press allowed colonial powers to tell their own stories for centuries. A Native American tribe that was literally taken off the map in California’s history books — and is still unrecognized by the U.S. government — is using technology to put themselves back on the map. On June 11 and 12, Eli Moore and Catalina Garzon of Pacific Institute, and Miho Kim of The Data Center, led a mapping workshop with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe to continue a long process of documenting sacred sites in the Winnemem’s traditional cultural territory. On Saturday, mapping terminology and GPS skills were mastered in the Winnemem village near Redding, and on Sunday a dozen young people practiced their new skills while visiting four sacred sites along the McCloud River. We filmed the workshop to include as a scene in our Losing Sacred Ground documentary series.

All over the world, indigenous communities are incorporating mapping into their communication and outreach strategies, as they craft the stories they want to tell to the outside world about their struggles to protect land, culture, language and sacred sites. Mapping now figures into five of our eight stories: in Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, Russia’s Altai Republic, the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, and in northern California. As Winnemem leader Caleen Sisk-Franco says, "We need to create evidence to convince the Forest Service that this is a historic cultural district containing a network of sacred sites that all work together.

Different places teach us different things and have different purposes. But we need them all.

Source: Sacred Land Project