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By [email protected] - 16th July 2008 - 12:28

The Society for Conservation GIS (SCGIS-Kenya) has lined up seminars and training sessions for its membership to facilitate continued interaction and learning.
The Seminar that was to be facilitated by Dr. Said Mohammed of ILRI. The presentations started with the Chairperson giving the briefings on SCGISKENYA, its mission, vision and objectives together with three months programme from June to August. Thereafter she invited Dr. Said for the day\'s presentation.The topic was Kenya ATLAS of Nature\'s Benefit, which came from his four years work in Kenya with other partners both individuals and institutions like DRSRS, WRI,and RCMRD among others. The presentation was narrowed down to Using GIS to Connect Ecosystem Services and Human Well being in Kenya which came as a result of the realization that;1) Human demand for ecosystem services is quickly growing,2) Capacity for the provision of these services is reducing, and3) Science has not been brought to effective use to bear these challenges.This lead the study to focus on;1) Mapping of ecosystem services.2) Relate poverty and ecosystem services.3) Consequences as a result of change in ecosystem services.Thy focused on provision, regulating, cultural and supportive services which were put on a map of Spatial Pattern of Poverty and Human Wellbeing which is available for use in the WRI website. Through analysis, the map showed that both poverty and cultivated land is increasing as wildlife is decreasing. The study also realized that lowlands like Machakos and others where ecosystem services have been destroyed have the highest rates of poverty as compared to highlands which have undisturbed ecosystem have the lowest poverty rates as per the analysis done in the Upper Tana Catchment; one of the Kenya\'s five water towers. Also another big realization was the rate of land subdivision which is a great threat to both ecosystem and poverty alleviation. This then need to be communicated to the policy and decision makers in all levels and sectors especially the government and its agencies not forgetting the private sector.GIS was found useful in;1) Bridging the gap between science, policy and communities.2) Bringing people together and intergrating disciplines.3) Linking it with other analyses e.g. statistics.4) Presenting the data as maps which is common language for people and cuts across disciplines.5) Playing role in planning, policy formulation and scenario development.His next step with the atlas is to;1) Use and communicate it through:a. Publicly available at the WRI website.b. Incorporating it in the environmental reports.c. Integrating the map and information on ecosystem in the university coursework.2) Strengthen institutions to study poverty-ecosystem relationships by:a. Developing technical and analytical skills for spatial analysis.b. Establish new techniques on it that can spearhead more work on it, integrate and encourage cross cutting work involving multiple ecosystem services and poverty. That is it, how do you find it, you are therefore advised not to miss the 31st July 2008 seminar by Dr. Tom Owiyo of World Bank on GIS Application in Environmental Management. More information on the same will be circulated soon.Interesting phrase: policies are like hypothesis and have to be tested.By Clifford Otieno Okembo

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