Enhancing Vanuatu’s Protected Areas with GIS and site mapping skills

10 March 2020

The training utilised free, open-source GIS software and capturing of spatial data out in the field.

It was co-organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation (DEPC) of the Vanuatu Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Environment, Energy and Disaster Management to build GIS capacity within the DEPC.

“The training has been very productive, especially for our new officers, many of which have never been exposed to GIS before.  This training addresses a key need and priority for our Department, and we are very thankful to SPREP and the EU-ACP BIOPAMA Programme for the great assistance provided,” said Ms. Rolenas Baereleo, Senior Conservation Officer, Vanuatu DEPC.

“The skills gained through this training will enable our officers to make full use of the Pacific protected area portal regarding specific informational tasks and will assist with upcoming initiatives for mapping and ground truthing of boundaries for our conservation areas.”

Vanuatu mission February 2020

During the training, practical demonstrations of the upgraded tools and features of the Pacific Islands Protected Area Portal (PIPAP), followed by hands-on exercises increased the interest of participants in using the portal as a preferred information source for assisting various aspects of their daily work.

Participants learnt how to access and view their country data, conduct both basic and advanced searches for information resources, create and submit information and rudimentary boundaries for proposed protected and conserved areas and to locate technical guidance on different aspects of protected and conserved area management available through the portal.

The GIS component of the training covered the basic concepts and best practice of GIS and provided hands-on, practical skills in the use of the software, capturing spatial data out in the field using handheld global positioning system (GPS) units and utilising this field data to produce basic site maps with boundaries.

‘’I am delighted that through this training, we have been able to address this priority capacity need for the Vanuatu Environment Department.   We’ll also provide follow up technical support to the DEPC as needed to enhance understanding of the theoretical aspects and practice of GIS, including the use of more advanced functions of the software,” said Mr Vainuupo Jungblut Protected Areas Officer, SPREP.

“Follow up assistance on the use of the PIPAP will also be provided with the overall goal of supporting protected and conserved areas planning, management and governance across the region.”

The training served as a refresher for environment officers who participated in an earlier SPREP-facilitated GIS training in 2017 and a first time for new officers who participated, including those from the Vanuatu Ministry of Lands.

The PIPAP and GIS training for Vanuatu, held from 26-28 February was funded through the BIOPAMA programme, an initiative of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States financed by the European Union’s 11th European Development Fund. The training was conducted by SPREP in its capacity as the BIOPAMA regional resource and data hub for the Pacific, fulfilling its role to deliver capacity building initiatives and training programmes in the use of BIOPAMA supported tools and services.

Group picture: participants at the Vanuatu mission, February 2020

In the Pacific, BIOPAMA is implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in partnership with SPREP and the European Commission Joint Research Centre (EC-JRC). This partnership has seen significant enhancements of the Pacific Islands Protected Area Portal (PIPAP), the region’s one-stop resource for protected area information.

For more information on the BIOPAMA regional resource and data hub, please contact Mr. Vainuupo Jungblut, Protected Areas Officer on email: vainuupoj@sprep.org

A similar mission was conducted in Samoa earlier this year.

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