Using geospatial information to inform participatory land use planning and conservation efforts for the bonobo (Pan paniscus) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

Authors: Janet Nackoney*, University of Maryland
Topics: Environment, Environmental Science, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: conservation, GIS, land use planning, bonobo, Congo
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: 8229, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Endemic to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the bonobo (Pan paniscus), has been listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2007. The University of Maryland collaborates with the African Wildlife Foundation to support conservation planning activities aimed to protect bonobo habitat in northern DRC. We used a combination of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and satellite-derived information to develop spatial models identifying areas of highest conservation potential for bonobos, including key habitat blocks and potential corridors connecting them. To help assure connectivity, we initiated conservation land use planning processes with neighboring village communities. For this, we engaged approximately 90 villages in a participatory mapping program to define locations of agricultural areas, community forests, and habitat protection zones supported by agricultural extension to discourage deforestation. We evaluated the effectiveness of the bonobo habitat conservation activities by comparing annual tree cover loss trends in the community forests of both project intervention and nearby non-intervention villages from 2001-2017. We found that annual tree cover loss inside the community forests increased 40% from the 17-year average of tree cover loss for villages not receiving agricultural interventions, compared to 14% for villages receiving the interventions. In the agricultural zones, the villages receiving agricultural interventions experienced only half as much of an increase in rates of forest loss during project implementation compared to the villages that did not receive the intervention support. This presentation showcases geospatial data and analysis in the context of monitoring impacts on bonobo habitats and evaluating project impacts.

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