Forest Watcher mobile app: What Makes Satellite Data Actionable for Chimpanzee Conservation in Uganda

Authors: Lilian Pintea*, the Jane Goodall Institute, Rachael Petersen, MIT, Timothy Akugizibwe, the Jane Goodall Institute-Uganda, Agaba Hillary Kumanya, Uganda Wildlife Authority, Liz Bourgault , WRI
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Africa, Natural Resources
Keywords: Conservation, forests, Uganda, chimpanzees, GIS, mobile technologies
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Taylor, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Deforestation is a key driver of climate change, loss of species, diminishment of ecosystem services, and destruction of the natural resources. The Global Forest Watch (GFW) platform represents a ground-breaking advance in democratizing satellite information by providing near real-time, globally-consistent yet locally-relevant data on the world’s forests. However, local communities, protected area managers, and government officials often have limited access to the internet and capacity to use web-based tools. The Jane Goodall Institute in collaboration with the World Resources Institute developed Forest Watcher mobile app that puts 30-meter weekly and annual tree cover loss information in the hands of local decision-makers by enabling users with limited and occasional Internet connectivity to use and contribute data to GFW platform using mobile technologies. In this presentation we will discuss lessons learned from three years of using the app in western Uganda and how tree cover loss data resulted in informing conservation actions and management interventions to protect forests and chimpanzee habitats. First we will present the results of using Forest Watcher app by the private forest owners associations to support accountability and transparency among its members and inform the collective management of the private forests in Budongo-Bugoma corridor. We will discuss than the experience of local communities and National Forest Authority rangers to jointly patrol National Forest Reserves. Finally we will present how Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers and managers used the app to identify and stop encroachment in Kibale National Park.

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