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Session 2: Cultural Mapping as an opportunity for cultural, social and economic development in communities

Case studies by three experts with a special focus on how to empower communities through cultural mapping are presented in this section:


Ms. Rachel Guimbatan described the Ethnic Values in Ifugao Rice Terraces, Philippines and presented a community-based land use and management project incorporating indigenous systems and practices in restoring the Ifugao Rice Terrraces - a World Heritage Site in Danger. The project necessarily entails the identification and mapping of indigenous values and practices by the community members themselves and the project methodology emphasizes on holding a workshop for the community. The workshop activity in itself is an open forum where the communities work together. Consequently, the maps are drawn by the locals themselves based on memory and with the help of conventional basemaps and are written in the native dialect. As a piece of advice, the speaker highlighted the importance of relating well with the community members in the workshop activities and throughout the various stages of the project. Trust and confidence must be earned.


Ms. Leigh Pentecost discussed about the NGO Girringun Aboriginal Corporation and its primary objectives which include the identification and protection of the nine tribal groups' tangible and intangible heritage. To improve the nature of the Aboriginal involvement in the management of their cultural heritage, GIS is effectively employed in the cultural heritage mapping process. The existing cultural heritage data (e.g. oral history recordings, values, old and contemporary heritage sites) traditionally owned by the local groups was integrated to the GIS database. In land use and environment management, GIS proves to be a powerful analytical tool as well. Aside from heritage database management, Girringun undertakes cultural heritage activities (e.g. site protection, archaeological surveys), develops partnerships with other land managers, and encourages participation of the traditional land owners.


Mr. Peter Poole provided an overview of the Local Earth Observation, an NGO training based in Amsterdam that uses maps for diverse purposes such as tenure, land claims, compensation for injustices, and others. More specifically, the speaker discussed in detail about the mapping projects in local communities at various regions of the world -- tenure mapping in the Arctic Region, ancestral domain mapping in Southeast Asia, managing traditional territories and boundaries in Africa, etc. He insisted that mapping is the means rather than ends. In the process of mapping, for instance, local awareness of land issues is reinforced and the local and territorial information base is elucidated.