Vanuatu’s protected areas: let the mapping begin!

A training in open-source Geographic Information System software, a spatial analytical programme that allows users to create, view, store and analyse data in real-world coordinates, was completed in April for protected area managers and stakeholders of Vanuatu.

"It was an excellent capacity building exercise where participants learnt how to use new GIS software and, in the same exercise, map Vanuatu Protected Areas that previously weren't mapped before" Said Mr. Ryan Wright, Spatial Planning Officer at SPREP.

The GIS training was co-organised and implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Vanuatu Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation (DEPC).
"The training is part of SPREPs ongoing support to its member countries through its Pacific Island Protected Area Programme. This training signifies a positive step forward towards a comprehensive and up-to-date national protected area dataset which will help Vanuatu to achieve global, regional and national targets and priorities for protected areas," said Mr Vainuupo Jungblut of SPREP.

IMG 2118SPREP Spatial Planning Officer, Ryan Wright (right), during discussions with the training participants.
Photo: SPREP


"For our current protected areas dataset, we have many conservation areas that are represented as points only, with no information on boundaries or size except for the gazette conservation areas. Therefore, this training is a great learning opportunity for us at the DEPC as well as for the stakeholders". Said Ms. Rolenas Baereleo, Senior Conservation Officer, Vanuatu DEPC.

During the training participants learnt how to import, style, label and manage data, create their own protected area data and create professional maps. In addition, they also received hands-on training on how to map real-world areas and objects with handheld Global Positioning System (GPS) devices.

"I found the training very relevant to my work. Normally we would hand draw maps of areas with the help of communities that we work with, however, through this training I was able to produce maps that were more accurate a lot easier and faster. I would like to thank SPREP and Vanuatu DEPC for this very useful training," said Ms. Jessie Kampai of Vanuatu Live and Learn.

IMG 2181Participants undergoing a practical exercise as part of their training. Photo: SPREP

"The training will help the conservation managers and government departments to help communities to accurately identify and map boundaries of their current and proposed conservation areas. I particularly liked the field exercise involving the use of the GPS devices," said Mr. Taman Onesmas, provincial government representative for Shefa Province.

The workshop held on 26 April, was made possible through funding assistance of the EU-ACP funded BIOPAMA programme through IUCN and executed by SPREP. The main objective of the BIOPAMA programme is to assist Pacific ACP countries to meet their national priorities and regional and global commitments related to protected areas through improving access to and the availability of biodiversity data, development of information systems to improve decision making, improving access to the best available science and knowledge to enhance the work of existing institutions and networks on protected areas and building capacity for protected areas management.

The Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) Programme aims to address threats to biodiversity in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, while reducing poverty in communities in and around protected areas. It is an initiative of the ACP Group of States, financially supported by the European Union's 10th European Development Fund (EDF). It is implemented by IUCN in collaboration with regional partners such as SPREP in the Pacific region.
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