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New mapping app to support Indigenous peoples and local communities to showcase their conservation efforts

Misty Rainforest in  Costa Rica,  Central America

A new version of a smartphone app has been unveiled to help Indigenous peoples and local communities map, monitor, and support their conservation activities and land rights. 
 
The Mapeo for ICCAsapp helps users create digital maps and gather images and information on key features within their territories and areas. This information can then be used for their advocacy purposes or fed into major global conservation databases for better visibility at the global level. 

The app is being released as government and community leaders from around the world converge at the Convention of Biological Diversity COP 15 to agree new global targets for nature – with many of the draft targets recognising the protection of Indigenous peoples and local communities’ lands and rights as crucial for safeguarding biodiversity. 

Territories and areas conserved by Indigenous peoples and local communities, or ICCAs, are estimated to cover at least 21% of the world’s land (UNEP-WCMC and ICCA Consortium, 2021). If they were recognised for their contributions to conservation alongside the existing protected and conserved area network, it is estimated that the total coverage would increase to 31% of the world’s land (UNEP-WCMC and ICCA Consortium, 2021).  

However, it is not yet known exactly how many ICCAs there are in the world, and while they play a significant role in conserving nature inside and outside the protected and conserved area network, it is often without any legal recognition or protection, leaving them vulnerable to land grabbing and industries that exploit their resources.  
 
UNEP-WCMC and partners support ICCA custodians to document their ICCAs in two key global conservation databases, the ICCA Registry and the Protected Planet Initiative, helping increase awareness of and action for ICCAs at a global level.   
 
The ICCA Registry – managed by UNEP-WCMC – raises awareness of the significance of Indigenous peoples’ and community-led conservation practices, providing a much-needed evidence base to promote the recognition and support of ICCAs worldwide. The Protected Planet initiative is the most up to date and complete source of data on protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) and provides the basis for monitoring progress towards international targets on coverage of protected and conserved areas. 
 
The new Mapeo for ICCAs app now provides ICCA custodians with the means to digitally map the boundaries of their ICCAs, improving the quality and accuracy of the information collected. Enabling self-reporting of ICCA boundaries can strengthen community efforts to gain appropriate recognition and defend their territories from increasing threats. 

As a collaborative effort between Digital Democracy, UNEP-WCMC, and Forest Peoples Programme, the app was designed with and for communities, and includes the requirements for submitting the information to the ICCA Registry and the Protected Planet Initiative databases, streamlining the existing process.  

Expanding and improving the information in the ICCA Registry and Protected Planet databases helps UNEP-WCMC, and partner organisations demonstrate the importance of ICCAs to national and international decision makers, ensuring the collective conservation values of ICCAs are better understood and can be counted towards global conservation targets. 
 
“The new Mapeo for ICCAs app will make a real difference in boosting the evidence base for ICCAs via both the ICCA Registry and Protected Planet Initiative databases, ensuring ICCAs and their custodians can be included and respected in national and global decision-making.” 
Jess Stewart, UNEP-WCMC Mapeo for ICCAs project lead 

"Mapeo for ICCAs is a significant breakthrough in enabling and supporting communities, should they so choose, to show the world the scope, extent and locations of their ICCA places, on their own terms and supporting their rights. I wholly support the app as a vital new way to bring ICCA stewardship and conservation into the light.  
Tero Mustonen, Snowchange Cooperative, Lead Author, IPCC Sixth Assessment Report  
 

Download Mapeo for ICCAs mobile app from the Google Play Store by searching for “Mapeo for ICCAs”. 

Download Mapeo for ICCAsDesktop from WindowsMacOS, or Linux.  

Please refer to the ICCA Registry webpage for detailed instructions.

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