“Nothing about us, without us!” Originally used as a rallying cry in the disability community in the 1980s, and later as a motto for “heralding support”.Dignity, rights and welfare of a person with disability.” The phrase carries additional meaning for other underserved communities. James Ratling Leaf, Sr. of land indigenous alliance Have recently used this phrase to summarize their list of best practices help and Partnerships with indigenous communities a Society for Conservation GIS Webinar in April 2021. “Science needs input from indigenous peoples,” said Mr Ratling Leaf. “Indigenous knowledge and science are needed to reestablish our connection with the Earth.”
For many years, conservation practices in the United States have been introduced by people, primarily white men, to underserved communities with an air of benevolent patriarchy. Indigenous communities, communities of color, women, LGBTQIA+ and people with disabilities have experienced this behavior regularly. Recently, these populations have taken a more active role in the process of conservation on their land and in their communities. Geospatial technologies that have become part and parcel of mainstream protection However, research and analysis have been relatively inaccessible to many. Time, money and personnel are often limited in under-served communities, and resources for conservation efforts are often not viewed as basic needs.
While there is increasing representation of people of color, women and LGBTQIA+, people with disabilities and other underserved groups under mainstream patronage, they are still a small percentage of people in the discipline. Factor in the use of GIS, and the percentage of groups not represented in the conservation sector is even smaller… but changes are on the horizon.
Important for GIS Protection
The ability to map using digital technologies has revolutionized the way we understand the Earth and the practice of conservation. GIS and other geospatial technologies are used to support research, planning and operational decision making, and for asset management. Maps provide context as to what needs to be protected, why these places and resources need to be protected, and who is affected by both the use of these resources and the conservation of these resources.. GIS enables conservation professionals to access and use data relevant to their queries, but this has traditionally been limited to organizations with access to a wide range of resources.
The maps also show us patterns of history and the presence of discriminatory and exclusionary policies that “spatially separate people.” If maps can show us how we are discriminating and who we are discriminating against, then it makes sense that the people who draw the maps should be community people; However, under-served communities are more likely to lack access to costly geospatial technologies and broadband technologies to access software and data. Large organizations doing conservation research using GIS are still mainly white and male …but times are changing.
With the increase in use open-source GIS softwareWith the increasing number of flexible spatial and non-spatial applications running on mobile devices, and the decreasing cost of hardware, GIS has become more accessible. Geography, geographic investigation, and geospatial technology education is now available to more people at more levels – including K-12 Teacher and students. Due to these changes in resource requirements, the introduction of conservation GIS and driven by under-served communities is likely to increase over the next few years.
How can conservation experts build effective conservation practices in communities without people getting involved? In communities? Answer: They can’t. To build effective conservation practices, conservation professionals must create conservation practices With Experts who are from the community.
How do we create a conservation practice that represents all people and all communities? We start by trying:
- Diversifying the workforce within the existing key conservation organizations and ensure that disadvantaged communities are represented at all levels;
- Establish working practices with and within underserved communities;
- promote capacity building measures;
- To promote conservation, earth observation and geospatial theory and technology at all levels of education, including early childhood, High School, and later career;
- support teachers understanding and communicating geospatial thinking; and
- Promoting open source earth observation technology in education and research.
If we can make the resources available and accessible, we can use the power of our differences and the strengths of our different communities to make a positive difference in the preservation of GIS. All As individuals, organizations and communities, we can use GIS and geospatial technologies to build relationships, develop meaningful conservation strategies, and transform the landscape of GIS conservation.
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