ThinkSpatial: Janet Nackoney

Date and Time
ThinkSpatial: Janet Nackoney

Geospatial information informs conservation and community forest management in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Janet Nackoney

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) & Department of Geographical Sciences at the University of Maryland

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Abstract: Geospatial tools and data are increasingly applied to help conservation managers develop more effective strategies for the protection and long-term conservation of species and the habitats they rely on. These data can help inform the quality or condition of habitats, locate areas most important for conservation prioritization, and systematically monitor areas that are vulnerable to land cover and land use change. Recent advances in satellite-based forest monitoring have significantly increased awareness about the geographic extent of the world’s tropical forests; decision-makers now have much greater access to valuable data and tools to detect forest loss and change over time. Here, geospatial data and tools were utilized to assist habitat monitoring and conservation prioritization for the bonobo (Pan paniscus), an endangered great ape that is endemic to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Community mapping, geospatial analysis and modeling have helped identify conservation priorities for bonobos and other terrestrial species, monitor forest loss and habitat destruction, and promote community-based forest management with local communities.

Bio: Dr. Janet Nackoney is jointly affiliated with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Land and Resource Governance Division and the University of Maryland’s Department of Geographical Sciences. Janet is a trained geographer who uses geospatial data and technology to monitor tropical forests, conserve wildlife, manage land more sustainably, and promote food security. She is passionate about exploring the intersections and tensions between human and environment systems and helping to promote more inclusive and equitable access to land and property in the developing world. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Society for Conservation GIS (SCGIS) and for Congo Education Partners, which assists a small rural college in northern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The objective of the ThinkSpatial Forum is to exchange ideas about spatial perspectives in research and teaching, broaden communication and cooperation across disciplines among faculty and graduate students, and encourage the sharing of tools and concepts.