Maps are essential tools for identifying, studying, understanding and working at field sites and environmental restoration areas, particularly for making decisions about site management and conservation actions. They can also be used to showcase restricted distributions of rare or threatened species. But maps for such areas are not simply available for the asking. In fact, few maps exist for the sites where NatureFiji-MareqetiViti (NFMV) works, and we have not been able to produce in-house all the maps that would be advantageous for our work. To address this critical need, we held a workshop for the NFMV team on community-based conservation mapping to ensure our new staff and interns would gain these skills, and as a refresher for our staff who already had map-making abilities.
On 27 and 28 March, Dr. Sarah Pene, a facilitator from the Institute of Applied Science, University of the South Pacific, provided the training on community-based conservation mapping and design using QGIS, a free, open-source desktop geographic information system application. The training covered mapping using both vectors (less-detailed images made up of mathematical relationships between points and paths, which resize easily maintaining details), and rasters (images with a high level of realism and details made up of tiny squares or pixels that lose clarity when enlarged). They also covered how to create overlying layers that can add additional features to a map, and how to plot Global Position System (GPS) points into various layers of the maps they create.
Thanks to this workshop, funded through a Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund (KNCF) grant secured through Botanical Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), the NatureFiji-MareqetiViti team can now produce more maps in-house to better identify the areas where they are working, illustrate the actual situation on the ground, and simplify information sharing, as well as to indicate restricted distributions of rare or threatened species.