Society for Conservation GIS

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Society for Conservation GIS
Formation 1997
Type Non-profit
Healy Hamilton

The Society for Conservation Geographic Information Systems (SCGIS) is an international non-profit society with around 1000 members in 80 countries.

It originated in the USA in 1997 and at first grew to around 300 US members drawn from many of America's premier conservation organizations, united around a common concept of how technology can best be used to help non-profit conservationists worldwide. SCGIS adopts a broad view of conservation, the members and programs include native and first nations peoples, environmental justice programs and sustainable development. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation awarded a "Science Special Projects" grant via The Nature Conservancy in 2004 which funded 6 new international SCGIS chapters and new national workshops and training programs in conservation technology. SCGIS Kenya has grown to 100 members, SCGIS Madagascar has over 300 members, and SCGIS Philippines, SCGIS Slovenia, SCGIS New Zealand, SCGIS Mexico and SCGIS Russia have all been founded in the past year.[clarification needed] The book Conservation Geography (ISBN 1-58948-024-4) describes many SCGIS member and chapter projects.

The SCGIS Mission is to assist conservationists worldwide in using GIS and spatial technologies through nonprofit conferences, programs, scholarships, and training. This helps to provide a level playing field so that conservation and local self-determination voices can be heard in development and resources decisions often conducted behind walls of expensive technologies and inaccessible data. Providing high-tech support, training and tools in an "appropriate technology" manner so that these tools are usable and beneficial for local activists, local programs and local communities is a core value of SCGIS.

Cover of 1999 issue of SCGIS newsletter

The multidisciplinary nature of cultural and natural resource conservation efforts benefits greatly from computer-based tools that manage information. In addition to data management, computer-based tools greatly enhance the communication of conservation ideas to policymakers and the public. One of the most effective computer-based tools is a Geographic Information System (GIS). GIS consists of software, hardware, geographic data, and scientific methods that can efficiently store and analyse various types of spatial data and display these data as maps, charts, videos, images, or other graphic types.

Supported by an all volunteer staff, a volunteer Board of Directors and Advisory Council, SCGIS hosts an annual conference that features discussion panels on the integration of GIS and conservation science, user group meetings, hands-on training sessions, and workshops. This Annual Conference is recognized as a one-of-a-kind event and attracts GIS conservationists from all over the world. Many of the programs that are offered before and after the conference make the summer an especially productive and active time for SCGIS; members who participate in the training and conference often report that their involvement has changed their lives.

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