Participatory Mapping: Some guidelines for communities and organisations that support them
Organisation: Forest Peoples Programme; UK AID
Type: Guides and Manuals
Participatory mapping has been used as a tool for supporting community rights for many years. More recently, there has been an increased focus on monitoring as well as mapping, although the distinction between these two concepts is not always entirely clear and they are sometimes used interchangeably.
There is often significant overlap between mapping and monitoring. A monitoring process for certain types of (geographical) data may require an initial mapping process in order to generate a baseline for comparison; the location of certain activities may need to be mapped as part of the process of generating evidence that they are taking place; or an iterative mapping process may generate data that can in fact be used in monitoring.
However, although there are overlaps (particularly in relation to participatory methods) there are some differences in tools. This guide will focus particularly on participatory mapping, although many of the principles apply equally to monitoring.
There is no “one” correct way to undertake participatory mapping. The process and objectives involved will be determined by the needs and objectives of the communities; as such, they will (and should) vary depending on the context in which they are carried out. They will, of course, also be constrained by other external factors such as resources, accessibility, legal constraints and time, among others.
With that in mind, this document is not intended to provide a prescriptive description of the mapping process, but rather to gather together some of the insights from our work to date, and collected thoughts on improvements which might be made. It is intended presently as a discussion paper which may be useful for FPP staff, although it may be developed into a publication for our local partners and other organisations or communities, which outlines some general considerations in a mapping process, and some examples of good practice.