Communities use Facebook to monitor forests

Gepubliceerd op
16 december 2013

At another CIFOR Forests News Blog, as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, Martin Herold was referred on the topic Social media to monitor forests.

In the birthplace of Arabica coffee — Ethiopia’s Kafa Biosphere Reserve — rangers are using Facebook to monitor and verify changes in their forests.

As part of a joint study with the German nongovernmental organization Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU), scientists from Wageningen University and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), use remote sensing satellite data to observe the area from space in near real time. If they detect a change, they immediately notify the 30 rangers on the ground via a private Facebook group.

"From space we just see something is happening — but we don’t really know what, or why", said Martin Herold, a professor at Wageningen University and a CIFOR associate.

"But the rangers can go and say, firstly, if there is a change or not, and secondly, what’s the driver, what’s behind it. And that’s information you cannot see from space", he said.

"It works interactively, it works in near real time, and so you get a complementary data stream going".

If the rangers notice a change on the ground, they use the Facebook group to alert the scientists and their fellow rangers, who can focus their attention and monitoring on that area.

"Internet just arrived recently in the area, and at this point in time, it’s Facebook that everyone uses on a regular basis rather than email, and it’s just easier to keep people engaged. That just reflects the local reality", Herold said.

"It may be something else in the future, but that’s what works now".