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Spring 2006
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A Conservation Message from Jack Dangermond

In 1969 we started Esri with a vision that computer mapping and GIS could help the environment, and over the years we and our users have done thousands of projects that have brought a new quantitative approach to environmentalism.

In 1989 we started the Esri Conservation Program to help change the way nonprofit organizations carried out their missions of nature conservation and social change. This vision involved providing GIS software, data, and training, as well as helping to coordinate multiorganizational efforts. At Esri, we do this and we'll keep doing it because we believe in what conservationists are doing and that their efforts are important to the future of our planet.

We appreciate the opportunity to serve these people and their organizations with a technology that is helping them to organize information and plan for environmental management and conservation. In a small way our contributions provide a bridge between technology, science, and social responsibility.

The people we support are doing an excellent job. In many cases, members of nonprofit conservation groups have chosen to set aside more lucrative private careers to follow public service in difficult and often tenuous employment circumstances. They have chosen to place a mission of service to nature and to others ahead of many personal needs others take for granted. It's an impossible task for any one person, but as a group they are helping protect and manage what remains of our natural heritage all over the world. I've seen it firsthand, and I can assure you that their efforts make a difference.

My colleagues and I are proud to have the opportunity to help. In our own way, all of us need to be conservationists. As GIS professionals we have special talents that can help analyze and communicate about environmental resources. I would therefore like to close by formally challenging all of our readers to take a few moments to phone, e-mail, or use the Web to reach out to a struggling conservation GIS program, project, or person near you. I would like for you to think about your own interests and life goals and see if there isn't some room in there to help nature conservation and environmental health. We have made special arrangements with several different organizations that represent networks of thousands of projects all over the world where your help is needed.

For those in the United States who would like to find a nature project "just down the block," The Nature Conservancy (TNC) (www.tnc.org and www.conserveonline.org) operates thousands of projects. TNC also hosts the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) (www.janegoodall.org) GIS program and the more recent Great Apes Survival Project involving many other primate groups. Those desiring to volunteer their time to TNC or JGI may contact Susan Miller (tel.: 703-841-5997, e-mail: smiller@tnc.org).

A consortium of conservation organizations is also about to unveil a new worldwide Conservation Geoportal that will provide a single global online platform for the sharing and coordination of conservation GIS projects and data (coming summer 2006; please check conserveonline.org/workspaces for news).

For those wishing to support other global programs involving endangered wildlife, a good point of contact is the Wildlife Conservation Network (www.wildnet.org), which supports a dedicated group of field biologists, including Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton of Save the Elephants and other programs for protecting snow leopards, cheetahs, and more. You may also contact Elaine Iverson (tel.: 650-949-3533, e-mail: Elaine@WildNet.org).

For those who would like to volunteer for GIS projects supporting any of the 100 countries in which World Wildlife Fund (www.worldwildlife.org) operates, please contact J. G. Nasser Olwero (tel.: 202-822-3452, e-mail: Nasser.Olwero@wwfus.org).

Finally, those who want to get involved with individual conservation GIS volunteers already working in 100 different countries, wherever their help is needed, are invited to contact the Society for Conservation GIS (www.scgis.org) or Danielle Hopkins (tel.: 909-793-2853, ext. 1-1065, e-mail danielle_hopkins@esri.com).

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