Wild Green Mapathon
Unofficial road systems are rapidly expanding into rainforest regions across the island of Borneo, opening new areas of the island to logging and agriculture, such as palm oil plantations. The success of conservation efforts in the region rely heavily on knowing where these roads are, and accurately predicting where they will be built next.
The Global Roadmap Program at James Cook University is working to create accurate maps of the region using satellite imagery. The process requires human input to accurately detect and catalogue the new roads. To map the world's third largest island, it requires a lot more time spent documenting uncharted routes than any single researcher could devote to the task, so the Wild Green community stepped up to help by tracing the new roads on Google Earth.
Thanks to the Wild Green community's generosity in volunteering their time and effort, we were able to contribute an additional area of approximately 51,100 square kilometers to Global Roadmap's Borneo map.
This data informs conservation efforts by allowing for the creation of better models to predict which areas are most vulnerable to further road expansion. Such models are vital to conservation planning because poorly placed new roads are among the largest contributors to habitat degradation. A greater understanding of where they might be constructed in the future can help avoid human-nature conflicts by allowing governments and local communities to direct road expansion and upgrades to areas where they will be most beneficial to people and least detrimental to wildlife and natural resources.
In addition to providing a literal roadmap for conservation planning, Global Roadmaps and Wild Green Future made a donation for conservation in the region, which was sent to The Orangutan Project, an organization doing inspiring work to ensure the sustainability of rainforests and orangutan populations on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.