Microsoft Launches ‘Planetary Computer’ to Reach Biodiversity Goals
06 May 2020
The Peace Parks Foundation GIS team recently visited the Southern African Wildlife College to train the Higher Education and Training protected area management students. The objective of the training is to expose students to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and to empower them to do their field work more effectively. The training focused on GIS, using various open source software programmes and an introduction to the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART).
Every year, Peace Parks Foundation, as part of its empowerment initiative and as a long-term supporter of the Southern African Wildlife College, takes time to teach conservation students from all over Africa in conservation technologies and associated techniques. This year, 30 students from countries across the region were trained.
This GIS module focused on making use of the geographic and geospatial data around us to make better decisions. SMART is a vital tool in assisting wildlife managers in law enforcement data management, as well as for setting data standards and integrity in conservation area management.
As with all training at the college, conservation was the focus. After the two weeks, the students had to write a test, which included having to create a map. A third week of training, based on these newly acquired GIS and SMART skills, offered the students the opportunity to use spatial data and information to understand the nuances of land-use planning. The training also included sustainable management practices and land uses that would unlock the ecotourism potential of a given landscape.
The courses are intense, with a steep learning curve for students who have limited computer skills, but worth it, as the students leave with an understanding of how to use GIS techniques for conservation in the parks they serve.