Mapping communities: ethics, values, practice (collected case studies and analysis)




This thought-provoking collection of case studies sheds light on the challenges and unintended consequences of community-based mapping, and will be of practical value to those planning, implementing and assessing similar mapping initiatives. It includes:

  • a comparative study of mapping processes in Northern Thailand
  • a consideration of the understanding and use of community maps among indigenous people in Cambodia
  • a retropsective look for any long term impacts, a decade after GIS mapping in a rural community in China
  • a case study from Indonesia on the institutional implications of counter-mapping
  • also from Indonesia, an anlysis of the challenges and contradictions of capacity building for spatial information technology. This found that although a shift to increasingly technical mapping successfully enhanced the legitimacy of land claims, it also exacerbated the conceptual gaps between villagers, mapping facilitators and other stakeholders. Despite efforts to consult and build skills, the final agreements regarding the maps failed to satisfy many stakeholders.

'Community-based mapping: a tool to gain recognition and respect of Native Customary Rights to land in Sarawak' (by M. Bujang, from p87) is of particular interest to Forest COMPASS. This explains that although the indigenous people of Sarawak do have recourse to press for their Native Customary Rights (NCR), large portions of their traditional land are not officially demarcarted and are at risk of covnersion to palm oil plantations and industrial forests.

In a landmark decision in 2000, the community of Rumah Nor won their case against a pulp and paper company and the state government. Participatory mapping provided crucial evidence to support the claim. In response, however, the government passed the Sarawak Land Surveyors Ordinance of 2001, which regulates land surveying activities, making it more difficult for communities to assert claims for NCR, and community-based mapping has since been labelled as subversive. This case study looks at how community mapping has not only continued in this exceptionally hostile legal context, but has continued to be used in court to support land claims.

Fox, J, Suryanata, K, and Hershock, P. eds. (2005) Mapping communities: ethics, values, practice. East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawai'i.
Resource type 
Policy and regional reports
International Forest Agenda/s