Mapping Conservancy Resources

We join partners for two USAID-funded training sessions aimed increasing the capacity of our team on the ground to map, collect and record spatial data.

Google Earth map showing the scale of NRT community conservancies 

Google Earth map showing the scale of NRT community conservancies 

Northern Kenya is a vast and diverse landscape. Within the NRT area alone, 16 different ethnic groups cover over 40,000 square kilometres of mountains, forests, savannah, ocean and lakes. Mapping the resources, wildlife and settlements of this region is extremely challenging. Yet, as conservancies continue to make progress on their sustainable development goals and conservation management plans, this data is increasingly valuable.

Team photo - 31 representatives from NRT attended the two training sessions

Team photo - 31 representatives from NRT attended the two training sessions

Over two training sessions in June, 31 representatives from NRT attended a GIS and remote sensing training session. This was funded by USAID through their work with the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD). Attendees included the conservancy managers of Songa, Shurr, Ngare Ndare, Nasuulu, Nakuprat and Westgate, as well as rangelands coordinators and members of NRT’s research and monitoring team.

What is GIS, remote sensing and spatial data?

  • A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth's surface. GIS can show many different kinds of data on one map. This enables people to more easily see, analyse, and understand patterns and relationships.
  • Remote sensing is the science of obtaining information about objects or areas from a distance, typically from aircraft or satellites.
  • Spatial data is information about a physical object that can be represented by numerical values in a geographic coordinate system.
Trainees get to grips with GPS units

Trainees get to grips with GPS units

Staff from other partner organisations in the region, including Lewa and the Grevy’s Zebra Trust, also attended. The training sessions aimed to increase understanding around collecting and recording spatial data, and were targeted at people who spend a significant amount of time in the field. The training didn’t cover a specific data set (such as water points, or villages) but rather built the capacity of trainees to collect the data that was important to their conservancy or organisation.

For NRT’s rangelands coordinators, this means they will now be able to effectively map rangeland rehabilitation sites in conservancies, as well as intensive grazing sites, livestock movements and settlements. This professional development will hopefully see them able to process this data in-house, rather than filter it through NRT’s central headquarters. They will then be able to use this information to inform grazing plans and grass-reseeding projects. They can share it with partners and donors to show progress and challenges. It was also be a vital tool in marketing northern Kenya to international tourists.