Submitted by angelicas on Tue, 08/25/2020 - 12:02
Virtually Enhancing Marshall Islands Protected Areas with GIS and site mapping skills
August 25, 2020 by angelicas
Island and Ocean Ecosystems

Protected area practitioners and stakeholders of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) are now equipped with the skills to produce basic maps of protected and conserved areas following an online, virtually delivered training on the upgraded tools and features of the Pacific Islands Protected Area Portal (PIPAP) and the application of related geographic information systems (GIS).

The virtual training utilised free, open-source GIS software and involved hands-on capture of spatial data in the field.

The training was co-organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Climate Change Directorate of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI-CCD) to build and refresh basic GIS capacity of participants. The training engaged a wide range of stakeholders across different agencies including the Marshall Islands Environmental Protection Authority, Ministry of Natural Resources and Commerce (NRC), Marshall Islands Conservation Society, Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority  and the Marshall Islands Ridge to Reef Project, among others.

The training has been very productive, especially for the various stakeholders who have been able to participate this week.  This training addresses a key priority of our stakeholders, and we are very thankful to SPREP and the BIOPAMA Programme for the timely assistance provided,” said Deputy Director of the RMI Climate Change Directorate, Mr. Warwick Harris.

RMI training GIS practicals

“The skills gained through this training will enable our stakeholders to make full use of the Pacific Islands Protected Area Portal to fulfil specific informational tasks and will assist with planned initiatives for mapping and ground truthing of boundaries for our conservation areas.”

During the training, practical demonstrations of the upgraded tools and features of the portal, 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 basic and advanced searches for information resources, create and submit information and basic boundaries for proposed protected and conserved areas and to locate technical guidance and tools 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. Participants were introduced to the OpenStreetMap project. This free and open source spatial data is now available to Pacific users on the Pacific Environment Portal.

RMI training photo collage

‘’The virtual training went very well this week and I am happy that internet connectivity worked in our favour. Despite the current restrictions with COVID19, we have been able to address this priority capacity need for the Marshall Islands. We’ll also be providing follow up technical support to the RMI-CCD and stakeholders as required in the coming months,” 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 PIPAP and GIS virtual training for the Republic of the Marshall Islands, held from 17-21 August was funded through the BIOPAMA Programme, an initiative of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States financed by the European Union 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.

In the Pacific, BIOPAMA is implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature  in partnership with SPREP and the European Commission Joint Research Centre. This partnership has seen significant enhancements of the PIPAP, the region’s one-stop resource for protected area information. Support was provided by Bradley Eichelberger (PIPAP GIS Specialist consultant under the BIOPAMA Programme) and by the GEF funded regional Inform Project implemented through UN Environment and executed by SPREP. For more information on national RMI datasets please visit the RMI Environment Data Portal.

For more information on the BIOPAMA regional resource and data hub, please contact Mr. Vainuupo Jungblut, Protected Areas Officer on email: [email protected]. 

For more information on the Inform Project and national environment data portals, please contact the Inform team via [email protected].