Representatives from civil society organisations, the Ministry of Forests and Wildlife (Cameroon) and the Ministry of Water and Forests (Gabon and Central African Republic) have learnt how participatory mapping methodologies and related GIS (Geographical Information Software) developed by RFUK can support national policy processes related to land and forest management and community rights in the Congo Basin, at a workshop held in Cameroon.
MappingForRights (http://www.mappingforrights.org/), an initiative of the Rainforest Foundation UK, is an online platform which brings together expertise in the fields of participatory mapping, geo-spatial technologies and policy development concerned with community and indigenous peoples’ land rights and improved forest governance in the Congo Basin.
The regional workshop, held between 3 and 15 March in Douala, hosted 33 delegates from CAR, DRC, Congo, Cameroon and Gabon who discovered how the MappingForRights platform allows people to collect data from the field and manage, store, analyse and visualise that data and how this visualisation can help to support arguments for the recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights
“The workshop was held to help strengthen the capacity of NGOs, universities and government authorities to address the problems identified by communities, promote the rights of forest communities to forest lands and resources to sustainably improve their living conditions and reduce poverty,” said RFUK’s GIS/Website Officer, Peter Foster.
As well as training in participatory methodologies, technical training in GIS and QGIS software was given to use the tools created for Mapping For Rights, Delegates were exposed to a number of other software to support their work with geographic information, from initial data collection to storage, analysis and visualisation of this data.
“As a result, the training in GIS Software and the tools mapping for rights provides will support all delegates in all aspects of their work with geographic information and provide a means to create technical arguments based on data from the field in support of forest communities,” added Mr Foster.
In the absence of internet connectivity and the limitations of phone signal in remote areas of the Congo Basin, gathering data from the field in a timely manner is very difficult. The Rainforest Foundation UK (RFUK) has begun the development of a real-time monitoring system for illegal logging with the aim that data generated can contribute to national forest monitoring. The workshop presented an opportunity for the testing of the system and gather feedback from the delegates that will inform the next iteration of the system design.
“Participants can now interrogate their data and produce accurate analysis and visualisation, which gives them the technical tools and expertise to support their arguments when supporting forest communities’ rights,” said Mr Foster.