The Zimbabwe Drive kicks off!

Posted on March 29th, 2012 in General,Get Involved!,Google Geo Tools,Workshops by Alta

In the last two months, we’ve been telling you lots about our collaborative drive to create a map and registry of Zimbabwean conservation projects.  Today we’re very happy to announce that yesterday, a little belatedly, this drive officially kicked off.  It will be running until the 5th of May.

Gonarezhou National Park (Photos: Peter Levey)

In the next six weeks, if you’re a conservationist working in Zimbabwe, we would like to ask you to go to our brand new, easy-to-use, online project portal, register as a user, and add your conservation project(s) to MAPA’s database.  Your project will automatically appear on our publically available Google Earth layer, and searchable online map.

As a little extra encouragement, we’re running a number of other promotions and initiatives as part of this drive. You can find out more about these over at our Zimbabwean focus site, but, just to whet your appetite, here are a few highlights:

  • A free Africa Geographic/Africa Birds & Birding subscription and Tracks4Africa GPS map – just for adding your project!

Every project leader who adds a conservation project (active/completed in Zimbabwe) will receive a free 6-month Africa Geographic/Birds and Birding digital subscription and a Tracks4Africa GPS map for Zambia and Zimbabwe.  Tracks4Africa will also be giving away a free GPS to one randomly selected project.

A big thank you to Africa Geographic and Tracks4Africa for this great sponsorship!

  • Google Geo Tool workshop in Harare!

We will be running a 3-day Google Geo Tool workshop in Harare, from the 3rd-5th of May. At the workshop we will show you how to get the most out of Google Earth, Google Maps, Fusion Tables and other tools for your conservation project.

Learn more and sign up here, if you haven’t already.

  • Google Geo Tool Initiative: maps for your project!

Would you like to see your animal collar tracks animated in Google Earth, create a map of your projects’ activities for your sponsors, share your GIS data with collaborators or create a mini-documentary in Google Earth? Let us know what you would like to do, and we’ll help you do it.

For more information, and to get a few ideas for your own project, head over to our Google Geo tool page.

We can scarcely wait to learn about the real work that goes into Zimbabwean conservation, the issues these conservationists face and the threats they are seeking to address.  In the next six weeks, we’ll be sharing these stories with you as they come in – we’ll be posting to this blog, as well as to our TwitterGoogle+ and Facebook profiles.

If you’d like to learn more about our Zimbabwean conservation focus, head over to the drive’s website.  And if you do any conservation work in Zimbabwe, we hope that you’ll add your project today!


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A new, easy way to add your conservation project!

Posted on March 29th, 2012 in General,Get Involved! by Alta

If you’ve been following us in the last year or so, you’ll know by now that MAPA is collaborating with conservationists to build a registry and map of African conservation projects:  we provide the map and we let your pin your project on it.

How does this work practically? You have to go to a website, register as a user, fill out a form with information about your project, and make your record public. The map updates dynamically from the database and your project will show up on our Google Earth layer, and on our searchable browser-based map. [For a more detailed explanation of this process, read this blog post]

Easy enough? Well, it should have been. But up until know many conservationists have found the online form a little confusing to use and have consequently struggled to add their projects.

We listened to them, and today, just in time for the launch of our Zimbabwean drive, we’re happy to announce that we now have a brand new, user-friendly place when you can add your project: head over to and tell us what you think!

One new feature you’ll see in the new interface  is  green help/instruction boxes that appear as you start entering your information in any given cell – so you should be able to add your project without having to consult instructions. However, if you’d like a little more orientation first, we have put together a new help page (currently residing on the Zimbabwean site, but not only for Zimbabweans!) and have launched a new help forum to guide you along.

If you’ve already added your project using the old system, don’t worry! Just log in as per usual to the new system and you will see your project records and associated information.

We hope that you enjoy this new interface, and if you haven’t already, you’ll add your conservation project soon!


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Google Geo Tool workshop in Zimbabwe!

Posted on March 19th, 2012 in General,Get Involved!,Google Geo Tools,Workshops by Alta

One of the main goals of the MAPA Project is to make conservation more visible. For this reason we marry our project very tightly to both using and teaching tools that can help conservationists visualise and communicate their work, be it to policy makers, the general public, or peers. It is in this spirit that we occasionally put on Google Geo Tool workshops – events where we teach conservationists how to use Google Earth, Google Maps and Fusion Tables to visualise, map and communicate their work.

Google Geo Tool workshop in Harare, 3-5 May 2012

We’re excited to announce that we’ll be running one of these workshops in Harare, from the 3rd to the 5th of May 2012.  You don’t need to be a GIS boffin or tech wiz to attend, only comfortable with using your computer – our workshops are designed for conservation practitioners of all levels of qualifications and assume no programming or GIS skills.

At the training we will introduce you to using Google Earth, Google Maps and Fusion Tables for supporting decision making, increasing public awareness, and creating maps for your conservation project or organisation. We hope to also use this event to tell you more about how you can use the MAPA Project’s conservation map, to showcase Zimbabwean conservation projects (your work!) and most importantly, to meet you!

You can apply to attend here.

Google Geo Tool Initiative: Let us help you visualise your work!

As part of our special focus on Zimbabwe, we will go a step further than just teaching you how to use Google Earth, Maps and Fusion Tables – we’ll actually use these tools to create or help create material specifically for your project. For the next six week, if you’re a Zimbabwean conservationist or working in Zimbabwe, you can tell us what map or visualisation you need and we will either help you to create it or point you in the right direction.

We’ve put together a few examples on our Zimbabwe conservation site specifically to help guide you through the types of projects we can put together for you.  Rembember that we will teach you how to create projects at the workshop, and that there are a wealth of online tutorials available to walk you step by step through creating your own project.  For each of the example project on our site, we’ve pointed you to one or more of these tutorials in case you’d like to have a stab at creating a similar project with your own data.

We’ll bring you more news on the Zimbabwe conservation registry drive, including how and where to add your projects, very soon. Until then, we look forward to receiving your applications for the workshop and hearing about your conservation projects!

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Our latest newsletter: Zooming in on Zim

Posted on March 2nd, 2012 in General,Get Involved!,Google Geo Tools,Newsletters,Workshops by Alta

If you’ve been following our blog, you’ll know that for the last little while, we here at MAPA have had Gonarezhou on our minds. And Mana pools, Kariba dam, Victoria Falls, Matobo Hills….in fact, we’ve been getting downright zesty about Zim. We’re pleased to let you know that this affliction is only going to get worse! Don’t worry; we are still thinking about other conservation projects and places too! Here is our latest newsletter:

The Great Zimbabwe registry

Last week we officially announced the Zimbabwe drive, due to start on the 19th of March.  What is this drive exactly? Simply put, MAPA will be collaborating with Zimbabwean conservationists to build a registry and map of Zimbabwean conservation projects. We’ll also be highlighting issues of concern, organisations who work in Zimbabwe and hope to bring you many great Zimbabwean maps. Visit the drive’s website to find out more, or subscribe to the mailing list if you’d like to get weekly updates via email.

Google Geo: Zimbo style

Last year we put on a number of very popular Google Geo Tool workshops with conservationists from all over Africa. We love doing these workshops, both because we get to equip conservationists with practical skills to communicate their work, and because they allow us to get to know the people behind the work – which can lead down all sorts of exciting roads.

At our last workshop, for example, we were pleasantly surprised to meet the ladies from the Dambari Wildlife Trust, who travelled all the way down from Bulawayo to attend the training in Johannesburg. We started talking; one thing lead to another, and three months later, the Zimbabwe drive was born!

Nicky and Verity

Verity Bowman (far left) and Nicola Pegg (left) from the Dambari Wildlife Trust hard at work at the EWT workshop

It comes as no great surprise then, that our focus on Zimbabwe will include not only a Google Geo workshop or two, but a six-week long initiative where we will help you create your own Google EarthGoogle Maps and Fusion Tables mapping projects.

We’re kicking off the Google Geo part of the drive by starting small:  On the 19th and 20th of March we’ll be running a very personalised workshop in Cape Town, at the University of the Western Cape’s swanky new facilities. The workshop is for anyone in conservation or natural science who works in Zimbabwe, or with Zimbabwean data.

Although we will still teach you to use Google Earth, Maps, Fusion Tables and how to get the most out of MAPA’s conservation map (just like at our regular workshops), this workshop will be highly focused on participants’ own data. In fact, we’d like to be so focused on your work that we’re restricting the workshop to just 10 participants. There are a few spots left, so if you’re interested in attending, let us know soonest by emailing mapaworkshops[at]gmail[dot]com. We’ll follow up on a case-by-case basis.

For those of you who are worried about making it down to Cape Town from Zim – don’t worry, there is (at least) one workshop in Zimbabwe on the cards at the end of the drive, in early May. We’ll tell you more about that, as well as how you can get the most out of the Google Geo Tool initiative, in the next fortnight.

Africa Geographic and Tracs4Africa partner up with us for the Zimbabwe drive

The MAPA Project tells the world about African conservation projects and where they happen and so it seems only right that we should be teaming up with the continent’s premier conservation story-teller and master navigator.

As part of the Zimbabwe drive, Africa Geographic has kindly agreed to hand out a free 6-month digital subscription to their magazine (either Africa Geographic magazine or Africa Birds & Birding) to every organisation that adds a project. On top of that, Tracks4Africa will make sure you get a copy of their GPS maps for Zimbabwe and Zambia, and will also give away a handheld GPS to one randomly-selected participant.

You can learn more about these, and other great incentives over at the Zimbabwe drive website.  A big thank you to Africa Geographic and Tracks4Africa for your generosity!

Registering Rhino Projects

This year, MAPA will be going about populating our conservation map in a number of ways. We’ll be focusing more on countries (Zimbabwe being the current focus, obviously), but also on topics and taxa that span the continent.

As far as conservation topics go, they don’t come much hotter than the current Rhino poaching crisis, and we will be doing our bit by turning our attention to creating a near-complete registry of African Rhino projects, in the very near future.

As an appetiser, we recently put out a “first call” to Rhino conservationists and researchers. There’s much more in the pipeline, so stay tuned!

Remember that you can add your project at any time, whatever your conservation topic or country of residence! If you’re confused about how to get started, here’s a little help.

We’re not only mapping projects!

You may have noticed that we never refer to ourselves by our “full” original name anymore. Whereas we were once mapping Africa’s Protected Areas, we’ve now slightly outgrown our name. However, we do still represent protected areas and other critical habitats on our maps, and we still need your help to get it right!  To learn more about how we threw our name away and how we went about putting protected areas on the map, read our two part blog series here:[part 1][part 2].

Action-packed Autumn

We’ve got some exciting developments lined up for the next three months: We’ll be bringing you revamped project-input screens, new training materials, more Google Geo Tool workshop news, plenty of Zimbabwean conservation maps and hopefully, a more complete African conservation map!  For updates and news, follow us on TwitterGoogle+ or Facebook.

We’ll see you at the end of May.  Until then, a big, big thank you to all our friends, supporters and collaborators. This project wouldn’t exist without you!


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