Tropical Forest Community Mapping Initiative points the way to next generation of participatory mapping

Misty forest

Building on the MappingForRights initiative in the Congo Basin, the Rainforest Foundations (UK, US and Norway) recently undertook a global assessment into the feasibility of establishing a pan-tropical online interactive mapping facility of forest peoples’ lands.

The consultation of more than 70 indigenous organisations and NGOs showed there is significant and urgent demand for the kind of tools developed under MfR to support territorial claims, management and defence. On this basis and supporting technical and legal assessments, we have now designed and are now seeking support to develop a system which enables representative community and indigenous peoples’ structures to establish their own mapping platforms, empowering them to:

  • Determine mapping priorities as they relate to grassroots and national advocacy on land rights and forest protection.
  • Exercise control over collection and management of community mapping data whilst permitting aggregation of data at regional and global scales, or with other databases and cadastres, as needed.
  • Protect against possible misuse of sensitive community data by third parties (e.g. loggers, palm oil companies), including by placing them as the intellectual proprietors of the data.
  • Make geo-spatial data more readily available to communities themselves.
  • Share experiences, best practices, joint-advocacy and technology transfer with indigenous groups in other tropical forest regions (e.g. of community mapping and real-time monitoring systems developed through the MappingForRights initiative).