ArcNews Online

Spring 2005
Search ArcNews

E-mail to a Friend

The Field Staff of the Orangutan Foundation International Trained in GIS

During November 1–12, 2004, the Orangutan Foundation International (OFI) local field staff received GIS training for the first time. In fact, it was the first field technical training the team had ever received. The course took place in Pangkalan Bun, close to Tanjung Puting National Park (TPNP), field staffCentral Kalimantan, Indonesia. GIS training for on-the-ground personnel became necessary as OFI began to use GIS in its efforts to conserve and manage the park. The Indonesians who participated in the course conduct the day-to-day GIS work, such as field data collection and editing and generating maps for distribution to the key stakeholders in TPNP.

Approximately 20 people participated in the training. Half of the students were OFI local staff and five were from World Education, the organization that partners with OFI in implementing a sustainable agriculture program for the farming communities inside and surrounding the park. The rest of the participants were government officials from the Department of Forestry and local government who also share responsibility in managing the park.

The course was conducted in the Indonesian language, the native tongue used by the participants. This fact was key to the course's success. All of the materials were translated from the standard Esri training manuals into Indonesian, and the data for the lessons and exercises heavily utilized GIS data from the park. A volunteer instructor from Esri conducted this customized training on-site and used ArcView software granted to OFI through the Esri Conservation Program. In addition, ArcGIS Desktop and its capabilities were also introduced near the conclusion of the training.

All of the course participants were field personnel. Since many of them were experts in the ecology of TPNP, they had significant knowledge of the orangutans and their habitat. However, during the introduction, most confessed they had very little or no understanding of GIS; some were even new to computer technology. Knowing the background of the participants ahead of time allowed for the training to be designed for their needs. It began at the very basic level of how to use a computer and was followed by an introduction to GIS concepts. Then the participants were given the opportunity to become familiar with the software interface.

In 2004, approximately 20 people participated in GIS training conducted in the Indonesian language. This fact was key to the course's success.

GIS methods and techniques for collecting data through performing analyses were also covered in the class. Besides lectures and exercises, in-depth discussions were conducted on issues relative to conservation of the park, and the participants reviewed key GIS concepts. They analyzed issues, such as the expansion of the palm oil plantation into the park, through overlay analysis and calculated the proposed damage in the overlap areas. The instructor also taught methods for georeferencing images using ArcGIS Desktop. In the final class project, the students mapped the suitable areas for orangutan habitat based on criteria they discussed and selected.

Using the Indonesian language for the course materials and lecturing made the participants' learning experience a lot easier, faster, and enjoyable. It also made them more independent while doing exercises and working together in completing tasks. Enthusiasm to learn was high and clearly shown by each participant from day one right up to the end of the training session. In addition to classroom-type training, the students spent one day on a field trip to a nearby area of the park where they received hands-on training in GPS for mapping and ground-truthing satellite images of the park. GPS and satellite imagery play a significant role in the data collection process because of the lack of existing park data.

Immediately after the class, local OFI staff members began applying their knowledge and skills from this training to their daily GIS work. In only two weeks, they produced, printed, and distributed a number of maps to all key stakeholders, including the Ministry of Forestry, Illegal Logging Response Centre, local government, and nongovernmental organizations. Extensive field data collection using GPS is ongoing. In addition, the skills that OFI employees gained during this training will have a long-term impact on the GIS work and conservation successes in Tanjung Puting National Park.

For more information about this training, contact Canserina Kurnia, Esri (tel.: 909-793-2853, ext. 1-2546; e-mail: For more information about the OFI, contact Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas (e-mail:, Web:

Contact Us | Privacy | Legal | Site Map