Protecting areas in remote places, such as Central Sulawesi, is hard because information is so elusive. Deep, remote, swampy, tropical jungles are difficult to enter, map and assess for their ecological value. Yet without information about their ecological importance, most people have little reason to care about these remote, track less forests. How can you conserve ecosystems if you don’t know what’s there?
For most of history, understanding the extent and conditions of remote area required an arduous trek to see the place in person. Even on publicly owned lands, only those who could afford the time, or who could afford to pay surveyors, might understand the resources. Over time, maps improved, but most maps show only a few features, such as roads, rivers, and some boundaries.
In recent years, details about public lands and resources have suddenly burst into public view through the use of GIS. A GIS consists of spatial data, such as boundaries or road networks, and sofware to display and analyze the data. Spatial data can include variables that are hard to see on the ground-watershed boundaries, annual rainfall, landownership, or historical land use.