As we mentioned in our newsletter a few weeks ago, we’re committed to having accurate information on protected areas on the MAPA Google Earth layer. Phase one of the project saw many volunteers visiting protected areas in southern and east Africa, and as such we got a little bit of a feel for areas that we were writing about for the layer. Even so, we still got some information wrong, and some protected areas are not as well represented as they should be. For phase two, we are doing things the other way around: we’re starting with the desktop research and will be following with the on-the-ground mapping, thus providing an even larger initial window for errors to creep in.
The only way that protected areas will be well-represented across Africa is if the stories of these areas are told by people who really know them. A case in point: a few weeks ago we received an email from Dr. Colleen Begg from the Niassa Carnivore project. The Beggs have gone out of their way to add their information on the MAPA layer, despite having very limited internet access. Upon reviewing the information on the MAPA layer, Dr. Begg immediately noticed some errors on the Niassa National Reserve bubble. These errors will hopefully be corrected, preferably by staff of the Niassa National Reserve when we publish the next version of the layer.
This post is specifically directed at people like Dr. Begg: researchers and conservationists actively doing research in parks, park managers, rangers – we’re looking for 3rd party guardians for the protected areas on the layer. People who can adopt an area they know inside out and who can ensure that they are really well represented on the layer. It doesn’t require a lot of work and will ensure that the MAPA layer moves one step closer to telling the story of conservation in Africa. If you know such a person, or are such a person, please contact us.
If you are a phase one volunteer, please have a look at the protected areas that you visited and verify that we did it justice on the map. If you have any information to add, any extra or better pictures, any corrections, or can suggest good contacts to be 3rd party guardians, please get in contact.