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Environmentalists of Siberia learned basics of GIS technologies and mobile app

20 december 2022
Altai-Sayan Programme of WWF-Russia, Sailyugemsky National Park and the NextGIS company held a training in Gorno-Altaisk on the basics of GIS (geographic information systems) and monitoring and conservation mobile application.

Twenty employees of environmental organizations of Altai-Sayan ecoregion learned the basics of working with the NextGIS Collector mobile application and using geographic information systems for nature protection. The meeting and training was help on December 19-21, in Gorno-Altaisk, the capital city of Altai Republic. Participants learned to register nature protection violations (snares, traps, poachers, etc.), encountered animals and other information with the touch of a screen. The training was organized by the WWF-Russia in partnership with Sailyugemsky National Park. The lectures were experts of NextGIS IT-company from Moscow.

Workshop in Gorno-Altaisk city
(c) WWF / Alexander Sukhov
“NextGIS Collector, the first in the world mobile app for snow leopard monitoring was developed by WWF-Russia initiative in 2018 by experts of NextGIS company from Moscow. New technologies changed the approach to data collecting in the field. Bulky paper tables that you had to fill in cold winter with a pen constantly frozen were changed to operating smartphone app. All you need is a smartphone and a finger. In 2021, the app was updated to fit the needs of protection departments of environmental organizations. Now the rangers were able to take pictures of the object, register the coordinates, record violations, traces of poachers, etc. using just one app. These registered objects or date are automatically uploaded to the online map of the territory. This helps to identify areas with most of environmental crime cases and allocate resources adequately, protect better,” says Alexander Karnaukhov, Senior Project Coordinator of the WWWF-Russia in the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion.

The mobile application collects data on environmental crimes, encounters with animals and traces animals (paw prints, scrapes, scuff marks, urine marks), characteristics of the territory (exposure, type of soil, vegetation), etc. The program automatically determines and saves the exact coordinates, date and time of the meeting of the object. Smartphone data is automatically synchronized with the server as soon as the mobile phone enters the mobile coverage area. This helps to avoid errors when recording coordinates, which is often the case with traditional work with paper tables, the information of which is transferred to electronic forms.

In 2019 the rangers and scientist tested the app for the 1st time.
(c) WWF / Leonard Takhanov

The participants of the training in Gorno-Altaisk were employees of environmental organizations of the Republic of Altai - Saylyugemsky National Park, Altaisky Reserve, Directorate of the Altai PAs, Ukok Quiet Zone and Uch-Enmek Natural Parks, the Tyva Republic - the Ubsunurskaya Hollow Nature Reserve, and the Natural Park " Tyva”, Republic of Buryatia – Tunkinsky National Park.

The particiopants of the workshop in Gorno-Altaisk city
(c) WWF / Alexander Sukhov
“The Sailyugemsky National Park Protection Department has been using the mobile application since 2022. This allows you to control the work of inspectors, see the routes traveled, as the smartphone saves information, record and analyze cases of poaching or detection of loops, hiding places. Now, after the raids, sitting in the warmth and comfort at the computer, you can safely open an online map, analyze the situation, plan further work to protect the territory more efficiently,” says Alexander Sukhov, one of the training organizers, deputy director of the Saylyugemsky National Park for protection.

WWF-Russia hopes that by the end of 2022, trained inspectors will use the application regularly in their work.

The NextGIS Collector mobile application for snow leopard accounting was developed in 2018 on the initiative and with the support of the Altai-Sayan branch of WWF and the World Around You Foundation of Siberian Wellness. The main goal of implementing the application is to automate the collection of data on the registration of the number and condition of snow leopard groups, environmental violations, reduce the duration of expeditions and simplify field work.