In the last three months we’ve been learning more about Zimbabwean conservation, released a brand new user-interface for finding and adding conservation projects , and have started to prepare for an exciting new workshop in Cape Town. Here is our latest newsletter:
A brand new project user-interface and search page
One of our main jobs is to build a catalogue and map of Africa’s conservation projects. How well we achieve that almost entirely depends on how many conservationists use our website to add their work, which in turn largely depends on how easy it is for them to use it.
After quite a few iterations of just-not-quite-getting it right, we were excited to announce the release of a much cleaner and simpler new user-interface in March. But don’t take our word for it – try it out yourself! Head over to mapa.maproject.org to search the database for protected areas, critical habitats, and of course, contributed conservation projects from across the continent. Then map your search in Google Earth!
Can’t find your project in the database? Add it! Simply register as a user, login, and fill in your projects’ details. As soon as you choose to make it live, others will be able to find it in the database, and see it on our Google Earth conservation map.
We hope that you’ll enjoy using this new system – as always, we’d love to hear your thoughts and criticisms!
At the end of March, with the help of our friends at Africa Geographic & Tracks4Africa, we embarked on a two month mission to get Zimbabwean conservation on the map – a drive that saw us connect with over a hundred of the country’s most prominent and dedicated conservationists. During that time, we got to learn a little more about the projects these men and women work at, which include environmental advocacy in the Zambezi valley, the research, conservation and welfare of large carnivores, on-the ground logistical support for Zimbabwe’s parks authorities and sustainable development through agricultural research and public-private partnerships – to name but a few.
Many of these Zimbabwean initiatives have already been added to our conservation map, and a few more will be live soon. Look out for that, a report back on the drive, and an exciting partnership with the Green Zambezi Alliance, in the six weeks.
Our Zimbabwean education wasn’t all “distance learning”, though! At the beginning of May, we also had the opportunity to travel up to Harare to meet a small group of Zimbabwean conservationists in person for a three day workshop on how to use Google’s mapping tools in their work, and how to use MAPA’s conservation mapping tool for their own benefit. This blog post has more.
Google Map Maker & Google Map Engine at our Cape Town training
Fresh of our mapping workshop at Mapumula in May, we announced another Google Geo Workshop for June, this time in Cape Town, at UWC’s brand new Life Science building.
What’s particularly exciting about this training is that it will introduce two tools that are only just becoming available to South Africans, and nonprofits.
Google Map Maker, the tool that allows you to add the points of interests you care about to Google Maps, was launched South Africa just over a week ago. We’re so excited that Evans Arabu from the Google Map Maker team will be joining us at this workshop to show environmentalists how to give parks, reserves, landscape features and those obscure study sites nobody has ever heard of, their rightful and correct place on the map!
Another relatively new Google Geo Tool that will feature at the workshop is Google Maps Engine, a revolutionary geospatial tool that allows organisations to manage their data in the cloud and easily make and share maps using Google Earth, Maps and Android phones. Globally, it’s already being successfully utilised by organisations like World Wildlife Fund, Eyes on the Forest and the Living Oceans Society to manage and publish critical environmental data, and we look forward to giving our workshop participants a first glance at how this technology can be leveraged for their own organisations.
The Overberg district municipality’s wetlands & critical biodiversity areas, mapped using Google Maps Engine (data downloaded from BGIS: http://bgis.sanbi.org, copyright C.A.P.E)
That’s it for this quarter’s newsletter! We look forward to sharing more conservation stories, tools, and of course, maps, with you in the next three months!