MAPA Project at the 24th International Congress for Conservation Biology, Edmonton, Canada

Posted on April 26th, 2010 in General,Get Involved! by Alta

SCB2010LogoAlbertaThe MAPA Project will be presenting and attending the ICCB in Edmonton, Canada between the 3rd and 7th of July 2010.  We are hoping to use this opportunity to tell the conservation community about MAPA and about the ways in which we can help pin conservation in Africa on the map.

We’re also hoping to learn about ways in which we can improve the project to be more interactive, more user-friendly and ultimately, more useful.

Now that the skeleton is slowly coming together (you’ll have to wait just a little while longer for the new layer to go public), we are starting to move our attention more and more to conservation projects. In addition to offering a window on African conservation to the world, we are working on ways in which we can help researchers connect with and learn from each other and make their work even more visible.  However, as always, we need the guidance of conservationists in this.

If you are going to be in attendance at the ICCB, please let us know – we’d love to meet up with you, learn about the work that you are doing in Africa, help you put your project on the map, and learn about ways in which we can improve the MAPA Project to suit your needs.

Getting ready to go live

Posted on April 14th, 2010 in General,New Content by Alta

It’s nearing on two months since the last version of our layer was published, and on that occasion we hinted that we were working on moving to a “live” layer.  Having a live layer means that we will be able to make any updates and new entries to the database public at any time – so if you added your project today, you wouldn’t have to wait for a few weeks to see it appear on Google Earth, but would see it the very next day.

We are now getting much closer to having that layer. We anticipate that the process will  take a couple of weeks to complete still, but we can scarcely wait to show you the new map!  We’ve done our best to improve content where you’ve told us to, and the layer is much better off for it – thank you! Please keep sending in suggestions, comments, corrections and of course: content!

We don’t want to give too much away just yet, but at a minimum you can expect much improved content for southern and east Africa, and a substantial number of new protected areas for central and west Africa.

More news soon!

Announcing a MAPA Google Earth/Maps Workshop – 7 May 2010

Posted on April 1st, 2010 in General,Workshops by Alta

We’re pleased to announce that we’ll be hosting a mini-workshop with a small group of conservationists in Cape Town on Friday, the 7th of May 2010 at the University of Cape Town.  The objective of the workshop will be to introduce these biologists to ways in which they can use Google’s Geo tools to illustrate their work to the general public and to gauge ways in which we can improve the ways that the MAPA project is serving the conservation community.

After an introduction session covering the various tools on offer, the workshop will take a case-study approach and we will spend the rest of the day creating material that can be used by these conservationists in public talks, their websites, and of course: their project postings on the MAPA layer.

Due to  us using this case-study approach, there are severe space limitations, and as a result this workshop is already completely full, but we encourage anyone that would benefit from a similar exercise to get in touch with us. We can’t promise that we’ll be able to physically come to you, but at a minimum, we can direct you to tutorials and examples, and share our own experiences with you.

Illustrating data collected from collared baboons like Force, shown here, will feature strongly in the workshop.

Illustrating data collected from collared baboons like Force, shown here, will feature strongly in the workshop.

The idea for hosting workshops amongst conservationists was borne out of our own experiences at the Google Earth Outreach workshops in Kampala and Nairobi in October and November 2009.  We were amazed at how well this platform works for illustrating phenomena  like  animal movement through time and space,  wildlife distributions and environmental change  and how easy it was to illustrate these –  even with no technical or GIS training.

Illustrating these stories is what the MAPA layer is all about, but we don’t have the capacity or the knowledge to tell that story ourselves. At the risk of sounding like a stuck record – the MAPA project belongs to everyone in conservation!

By passing on the skills and knowledge that we acquired in Kampala and Nairobi, we hope that conservationists will be able to better use the MAPA layer as a platform to tell their stories. We also hope that they’ll be empowered to use Google’s Geo tools  for the benefit of spreading their message using other public platforms, like websites, blogs, public talks and even scientific papers.

How can we tell the public about Great White shark movement in False Bay?

How can we tell the public about Great White shark movement in False Bay? (Photo:

Whereas we want to help as much as possible, all the information that you need to get started is already available at your fingertips! Google Earth Outreach has a series of tutorials for all levels of Google Earth and Google Maps users. These offer step-for-step guidance to help you get the most out of Google Earth and -Maps for your cause.  Explore ways in which you can make your work more visible today, and don’t forget to add your project to the MAPA layer while you’re at it!