Mapping for Rights: Technology Helps Protect Congo Rainforests

Screenshot of MappingForRights.org.

Screenshot of MappingForRights.org.

There’s a new technological tool that harnesses the power of communities to help prevent the destruction of rainforests.

MappingForRights.org is a new participatory mapping website produced by The Rainforest Foundation UK.

MappingForRights supports Foundation’s goal of promoting community rights over rainforest lands, and builds a knowledge base of the Congo Basin’s inhabitants and how resources are used within these mapped forest regions.

Built on an interactive and free, open-source software platform, MappingforRights offers access to detailed digital maps and provides users with the locations of forest communities, and how and where forest resources are used.

According to The Rainforest Foundation UK, the website also provides details on protected forest areas, as well as the current state of degraded forest areas due to factors such as logging.

It also contains interactive features such as photos, videos, and music, providing insight on important cultural activities and background on the communities’ livelihoods.

The website is a culmination of years of work in mapping forest communities in the Congo Basin, with many of the digital maps produced by trained local forest communities supported by The Rainforest Foundation UK and other organizations.

According to the Foundation, training community members in remote locations can be implemented at a cost of less than $1 per hectare of forest mapped.

Since 2001, The Rainforest Foundation UK has mapped forest communities in Cameroon and has expanded to the Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Gabon.

Viewing portions of the website’s community map databases requires permission from the Rainforest Foundation UK, due to the sensitivity of some of the data. Potential users are required to submit an online application form.

MappingForRights promotes community-based mapping, incorporating locals’ expert knowledge of their land, boundaries, and natural resource management practices, thus contributing to the organization’s recognition of the importance of local decision-making and resource planning.

See also “Interactive Map Viewer Launched to Monitor Congo Forests”