Parker Jones, Chairman GiC As featured in Forest & Bird Magazine March 2017

Parker Jones, a long-time Forest & Bird member, has a vision. He wants to see New Zealand rid of introduced pests. And he believes one way to do this is to use smart mapping technology. His charity GIS in Conservation (GiC) was set up four years ago to help conservationists do their trapping, planting, and weeding work more easily (see the case studies below and overleaf). American-born Parker brought Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to New Zealand in the 1980s, when he was working as a salesman for New Zealand-owned IT company Eagle Technology. The powerful US mapping technology proved popular, and Parker sold it to lots of organisations, including the Department of Conservation, Ministry for the Environment, OSPRI, health authorities, and regional councils. Fast forward 30 years, and conservation groups such as Forest & Bird anywhere in the world can now access GIS technology for just US$100 a year, thanks to the generosity of the American developer Esri. But using the complex computer-based technology was a barrier for many.In 2012, Parker, decided he wanted to set up a charity to help conservation groups use the GIS technology. Parker explains: “I felt bad. I would throw this complex software at conservation groups and then leave them to it. “So, I thought, why not use my experience and my love of New Zealand to give something back and make a difference?” Parker’s idea was to establish a core group of geospatial expert volunteers who could help conservation groups harness the mapping tool for the benefit of their conservation work. The volunteers and GiC’s committee of experts support projects in different ways, depending on their complexity. “It has been easy to get volunteers. Many of them are very skilled and are keen to help New Zealand’s conservation efforts,” says Parker, who lives in Wellington. “We match a request from a conservation group with the skills of our volunteers. It could be anything from an easy mapping project up to something very complex. “I want New Zealand to be pest-free. That’s the big picture, that’s the vision we’re all after.” GiC has helped Forest & Bird projects in the past, and Parker would be pleased to hear from any members who would like to tap into GiC’s resources to help their conservation efforts.

This story first appeared in Forest & Bird magazine http://bit.ly/2h3SBAu. You can find out more about Forest & Bird’s work at www.forestandbird.org.nz