The City of Cape Town has developed an exciting hands-on GIS project for high schools in partnership with EnviroEds, the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), the Table Mountain Fund (founded by WWF-SA) and the Western Cape Education Department.
The environmental education centres at Rondevlei and Helderberg Nature Reserves have benefitted as follows:
- The City has donated computers, GIS programme licences and GPS (Global Positioning System) units
- SANBI has trained the education officers and provided technical support
- EnviroEds, supported by the Table Mountain Fund, has coordinated the pilot project and developed learning support materials
- The Western Cape Education Department has guided and monitored the process, and encouraged schools to participate in the project
The project gives high school youth the opportunity to experience how nature conservators use GIS technology to monitor and care for nature. They learn about GIS through practical fieldwork, thus supplementing the lessons they've learned from their textbooks and computers.
- At the nature reserves, the youth are able to use hand-held GPS units to find their way to monitoring sites and to record locations
- At Rondevlei, schools monitor water birds and the environment, and record their findings in a database that is linked to a GIS map
- At Helderberg, schools help the nature reserve to monitor the path network and plan routes that will suit particular groups of visitors
- Youth use GPS units, digital cameras, binoculars and GIS software to gather, record and analyse data
- At the reserve or back at school, learners can construct their own GIS layers, create their own maps, and display their observations and digital photographs using GIS technology
- Schools participating in this project are helping to build up long-term monitoring records for the nature reserves. A website that allows learners to access and analyse the data collected by participating schools is under construction.
This project aims to make the GIS section of the Geography curriculum for Grades 10-12 more meaningful. We also hope to give high school youth the opportunity to investigate biodiversity, ecology and natural resource management issues in natural areas close to their homes and schools.
Cape Town’s natural environment – its landscapes, plants and animals - are world famous. But they are also under threat from very rapid development. We hope that this project will be an opportunity to involve youth in monitoring and caring for the city’s natural heritage.
Over the next few years, the project will expand to include more nature reserves across Cape Town so that more high schools can benefit.
For further information, contact:
Ms Lindie Buirski
Tel: +27 (0)21 487 2839
Fax: +27 (0)21 487 2255