GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF THE PHILIPPINES

GIS-ASSISTED RESOURCE CONSERVATION: 
Joint-learning with the Ifugaos in the Philippines

 

Rhodora M. Gonzalez, PhD 
Department of Geodetic Engineering

University of the Philippines

Diliman, Quezon City 1101

 

Geographic information systems (GIS) technology offers a new way for different disciplines to jointly learn and manage our planet’s resources. However, GIS data sources and processes preclude participation of non-technology experts who may have crucial environmental information to share. This paper is about an exploration in using participatory methods in what usually is an expert-dependent use of GIS. It hinges on the technology’s integrative spatial analysis capability and people’s intimate knowledge of their own space. The case study details how isolated rural farmers of Ifugao, Northern Philippines engaged in collectively interpreting aerial-photographs and satellite images, and in tracing their successful tradition in terraced agriculture. In the process, a different side of GIS is shown— from mapping and data management to that of jointly constructing and understanding the ‘world’ to be managed. This jointly-constructed GIS generated views from aggregated information about Ifugao’s world-famous, fragile terraces. It demonstrated that limitations in computer know-how are not a deterrent to participate in designing and using GIS in debating about the future of our environment.  

 
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