The Tropical Forest Foundation (TFF), as part of its commitment under the RAFT3 program, delivered an introductory course in the use of Geographic Positioning System (GPS) for forestry in January, 2018. This was a collaborative effort between the two RAFT partner organizations, with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) providing in-country organizational and logistic support and TFF providing training materials and instruction.

The course featured the use of hand held GPS units to collect field data such as tree positions, location of roads and tracks, and other features in the forest.  The combination of classroom and field exercises gave the participants plenty of opportunity to get very familiar with GPS data collection, storage, and management.

In the classroom, participants practiced downloading, cleaning, and editing field data into ExpertGPS and analyzing the data on Excel software.  The objectives of this practical classroom training, was to demonstrate and practice preparing GPS field data for integration into Geographic Information System (GIS) base maps such as ArcMap and other, satellite-based map platforms.

The seven-day course was held on the campus of the Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE) in Nay Pyi Taw with practical field exercises conducted in the nearby Ngalaik Sa Khan Tha elephant conservation area. Encounters with elephants while tracking their trails through the forest added an unexpected dimension to the training exercise!

TFF trainer, Mario Ekarosa, instructing participants in field data collection protocols.

 

This has been the first time that the MTE Training Center No.2 has hosted an externally organized and funded training activity and will, hopefully, demonstrate the utility for other funded organizations to make use of Myanmar’s many training institutes operated by the forestry sector.

The twenty participants were seconded primarily from the Forest Department and the MTE but also included a few participants from non-government organizations.

Appreciation for the training opportunity was expressed at the closing ceremony by Local Council and Forest Department representatives and by Tint Lwin Thaung, Country Director of TNC.  Speaking to the participants, Tint stated: “While not all of you may end up using GPS in your daily work, clearly this is the beginning of a process of change where the latest technology gets integrated into the planning and operational practices and, where the end result is a more professional and sustainable approach to forest management”.

By Art Klassen, Regional Director, Tropical Forest Foundation