What if there was an easy way you could easily find out what work other conservationists in your field were involved in? What they were doing to address the same problems you have? Who were funding them? Who they were collaborating with? What if your project could be visible to others in your field? A public that could contribute? Grant-making bodies that could fund your work?
For the past two years, we here at MAPA have been building just such a tool with our online project registry and map. It’s been showing great potential and we’ve had wonderful encouragement from conservationists from all over Africa, but we also know that it will ultimately only really be useful if enough African conservationists are represented on it. But Africa is a big place! And so we’re tackling this enormous task one country at a time!
A few weeks ago, we told you about our Zimbabwe Conservation Registry drive, an initiative that will see the MAPA Project working with conservationists in Zimbabwe to achieve just such a registry and map for this country of Miombo woodlands, mighty waterways and majestic wildlife.
Thanks to encouragement from the many Zimbabwean conservationists we’ve been in contact with since then, and a generous partnership with Africa Geographic and Tracks4Africa, we can now officially announce that this drive will take place between the 19th of March and the 30th of April 2012. We can scarcely wait!
So what will the Zimbabwe registry drive entail?
The main thing we’ll ask participating individuals and organisations to do is to add an online “project profile” for each of their projects. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that anyone can do this do this already. However we’ve been working on more user-friendly input screens to make adding projects even easier and will be making these available just before the start of the drive, together with updated help materials and increased support.
During the drive, we’ll also be supporting conservationists with more ways to make Zimbabwean conservation more visible. Generally, we’ll be updating protected areas and critical habitats on our conservation map. Specifically, we’ll be offering workshops to teach conservationists how to use the MAPA tool for their own organisations, as well as how to use tools like Google Earth, Google Maps and Fusion Tables to highlight and communicate their own data, and the issues they care about. We’ll be going one step further and even help them create these visualisations.
But we don’t want to give too much away! More news on these initiatives soon!
Gifts from Africa Geographic and Tracks4Africa
To make it a little more appealing to go to the trouble of adding a project, our partners at Tracks4Africa and Africa Geographic are offering a few nice incentives to every organisation which loads a project:
- Every organisation which loads one or more projects will be able to download the latest Garmin compatible GPS map for Zimbabwe & Zambia for free, from Tracks4Africa. It’s a routable map, with 38,000km of roads and over 5,000 points of interest.
- Everyone will also be able to claim a free 6-month digital subscription to Africa Geographic or Africa – Birds & Birding
- MAPA, T4A and Africa Geographic will also be doing their best to publicise this effort and give your projects some exposure.
Interested? Follow along!
We’ll be talking a lot more about the Zimbabwe drive in the coming weeks. If you’re interested in following along, or participating, here are some ways that you can keep abreast of developments:
- We will be updating the Zimbabwe registry website with the latest news and developments.
- We’ll be sending out a more-or-less weekly email with updates, news and information to our Zimbabwean mailing list. Sign up here, if you’d like to join it! You’ll receive more or less one email a week until the end of April.
- We’ll be using our social media platforms to make new announcements too and undertake to use these platforms to highlight your efforts by re-tweeting, re-posting and re-sharing – so follow us on Twitter, Google+ or Facebook.
A big thank you to all the Zimbabwean conservationists who have already weighted in to make this initiative possible. A special thank you to our friends at the Dambari Wildlife trust, and our partners at Africa Geographic and Tracks4Africa. We certainly couldn’t do any of this without you!