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The best mappers are those that can relate to the whole community

By: GAR Posted: April 2, 2017 512 views

Franciscus Didik Dwi Budi Saputro, Mapper, 36 years old, Jakarta

“I don’t think people necessarily understand the real purpose of a map. They only see lines on a page, rivers, forests, things that don’t change. But to me, as one who helps a community map their land, the real point is the clarity and certainty it brings people—who has rights over what and do these rights clash with the views of someone else.

The process of making the map, not the map itself, is where the value lies. By listening and talking to everyone, it brings the community together, even those that aren’t supportive of the plantation plans. The best mappers are those that can relate to the whole community. Getting their input is important because that way you get a map of the community’s heart too.

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Didik, the Mapper

Mapping is not an easy process. The view of the community can be, “well we’ve managed so far without a map, so we’ll carry on”, but my job is to convince them of the benefits in mapping, defining, agreeing and protecting land claims. Some in the community see the benefits a map brings in terms of helping the community obtain sustainability certification. For others, it’s about recognising that this can help avoid problems in the future as the community grows and changes.

I’ve worked across both Riau and Kalimantan, and covered at least a thousand kilometres as a mapper for GAR. Working in Kalimantan is a little more challenging because the undeveloped land on that island is likely to be much lower in value. This means it can be difficult to get the community to engage in the mapping process because the easier way out is to buy more land instead. This can lead to trouble when the plantation is up and running and that area faces a rival claim to ownership.

Didik at work.
Didik at work.

My last project took me to a plantation community in Riau that involved nearly a hundred individual farmers for just over 200 hectares of land. That’s a lot of views and opinions to accommodate in a map. But I love my job—where else would you get paid to travel and integrate yourself with new people, cultures, and traditions?”

Read more about GAR’s participatory conservation planning and community partnerships here.

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