SANBI staff members recently attended a Google Earth & Maps Workshop at the University of Cape Town, organised by the MAPA Project, which catalogues conservation efforts across Africa and uses Google Earth to display its findings. Following the workshop, an invitation has been extended to conservation organisations to use this initiative to publicise their projects.
According to MAPA Director, March Turnbull, “there is an increasing need for conservation practitioners to communicate their work to each other, policy makers, and the public. Google Earth, which is already widely used by conservationists, provides a fantastic visualization platform to overcome these challenges.”
To help conservationists take advantage of what Google Earth has to offer, Turnbull and his colleague Alta De Vos hosted a series of Google Earth & Maps Workshops in Cape Town and Stellenbosch between the 21st of March and the 2nd of April 2011. These workshops were run concurrently with a special project to put all the conservation work in the Western and Northern Cape provinces on a Google Earth map.
During the workshops, several Google Geo-tools were demonstrated, and participants were shown how to get the best out of Google Earth and Google Maps when wanting to visualize and communicate their work. SANBI participant Caroline Petersen reported that participants also realized that the tools are more powerful and easier to use than is generally known. Advanced workshops on mobile data collection or fusion tables and creating virtual stories (tours) in Google Earth were also offered.
According to Petersen, the MAPA Project is calling on all SKEP stakeholders to add their own projects to MAPA’s African Conservation layer, increasing their global visibility and accessibility. “There are various ways to post your information,” said De Vos. “You may choose to add a single paragraph and picture, or you might like to build a bubble with videos, photographs, blogs or material created in Google Earth.”