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Community based monitoring of chimpanzee/forest habitats using ODK and Android based smartphones and tablets in Tanzania and Uganda – Lilian Pintea

Thursday 16th February

Speaker: Lilian Pintea | website

Theme: Challenging Citizen Science

Dr  Lilian Pintea  is the vice president of conservation science at the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI). In order to analyze the spatial relationships between chimpanzees, forests and human land uses, Dr. Pintea integrates remote-sensing data with on-the-ground observations and surveys of chimpanzees and their habitats. He trains JGI staff and local communities in the use of these tools and collaborates with them and relevant government officials in the development and implementation of conservation action plans.

As Dr Pintea stated:  They act as a catalyst and facilitator for the local communities to create conservation action plans. Their goal is to listen, to be trusted by communities and give them access to tools.

They first started to use mobile devices on western Tanzania and in 2005 realized that villagers can be and should be a part not only in the input but also in monitoring. They created a team of 16 forest monitors that volunteered. By the end of the year the forest monitors got 36.000 observations.

In 2009 the Jane Goodall Institute was invited to be a part of community forest monitoring which with the help of google.org is developing forest monitoring systems. Google.org and community forest monitoring have developed a suite of tools that could be used for this purpose such as ODK, Google Fusions and Google Earth.

Open Data Kit (ODK) is a free and open-source set of tools which help organizations author, field, and manage mobile data collection solutions. ODK provides an out-of-the-box solution for users to:

  1. Build a data collection form or survey;
  2. Collect the data on a mobile device and send it to a server; and
  3. Aggregate the collected data on a server and extract it in useful formats.

ODK is an application for devices with Android Operating System and at Jane Goodall Institute they have tested it with HTC-G1, Desire and to Samsung Tablets. Villagers store the data on the mobile phone and every two weeks upload the data to the server.

The design of the forms is very easy but the difficult usually is to train the users to use it. With ODK is easier to teach them on the use of the application and the data collected could be imported to GIS systems for visualizations.

Currently the institute has 3 running projects with villagers collecting data:

Gombe-Masito-Ugalla Ecosystem Project (Tanzania)

The overarching goal of the Gombe-Masito-Ugalla (GMU) Program is to conserve biodiversity and protect and restore wildlife habitat in critical ecosystems in western Tanzania.

Masito-Ugalla REDO Preparedness Project (Tanzania)

Demonstrating how traditional rural communities can lead — and benefit from — forest management initiatives that incorporate tracking of carbon data and the sale of earned carbon credits

Bukoma-Budongo Corridor REDO Preparedness Project (Uganda)

In Uganda, the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI)  increases the capacity of local ecoguards and government employees to manage protected areas; engages local communities in land-use and natural resource-use planning; promotes sustainable livelihoods; and educates students about wildlife and the importance of healthy ecosystems. Uganda is estimated to contain about 5,000 chimpanzees.  Habitat loss for agriculture and logging; hunting as a result of human-wildlife conflicts; the spread of disease between apes and humans; and a lack of income generating opportunities for humans pose the greatest threats to chimpanzees in the country.

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