Putting Local Climate Know-How on the Map
IPS, 6 March 2013

KINGSTOWN, ST. VINCENT: A new weapon in the arsenal against climate change is tapping local knowledge to bridge the policy gap and let communities make their own informed decisions about how to manage livelihoods, natural resources, culture and heritage. “In the past, most climate change initiatives have been top-down, coming from the government level,” says Martin Barriteau, executive director of the NGO Sustainable Grenadines. “[But] our communities, especially the ones on the coast, have been witnessing and adapting to the effects of climate changes over time,” he says. To that regard, participatory three-dimensional modelling, which merges conventional spatial information systems with local people’s own “mental maps,” aims to produce scale relief models that can be used jointly with Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Participatory 3D models are manufactured at the village level using paper and layered cardboard. Based on their personal knowledge of the area, informants depict land use and cover and other features on the model by the use of pencils, pushpins (points), yarns (lines) and/or paint (polygons). Once the model is completed, a scaled grid is applied to transpose spatial and georeferenced data into GIS. For example, the models can bring communities together around priority areas such as flood zones, drought concerns, fish populations and mangrove protection. The maps are also an educational tool for youth and children. Last week, SusGren, in collaboration with the Netherlands-based Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), brought together members of local communities and regional and international organisations on Union Island, one of the Grenadine Islands, for a one-week participatory three-dimensional mapping exercise. On completion of the workshop, participants are expected to be in a position to discuss the value of local spatial and traditional knowledge as well as describe how P3DM can be used to document, geo-reference and visualise local knowledge. The four- by eight-foot model will belong to the community. Read the article …