Posts Tagged ‘Education’

Last week we took a camera to Fulford Secondary School in York, UK, to get reactions from students as they were introduced to the DeforestACTION project.

These students connected with Dr. Willie Smits via Skype, and began working together with other students around the world to learn about the issues of deforestion.

Later in the week, they were invited to meet the Crown Princess of Jogyakarta, and pledged to expand their involvement in the project to help fund further orangutan rescues and to fight the destruction of important forests for palm oil production.

This is such an engaging project, because it connects students with one of the most importat topics on the planet, and makes it as real as possible. A big thank you to all the students and teachers at Fulford Secondary School for sharing this with us.  Are you a teacher? You can connect your students with those at Fulford by signing up at http://www.deforestaction.org.

Are you are an expert in deforestation or orangutan conservation?  We are looking to provide as much information as possible to students from around the world and are always on the lookout for new, engaging content.


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Her Royal Highness, Princess Gusti of Jogyakarta pledged to personally recruit 1 Million students from Indonesia to the DeforestACTION project

Why would her Highness, Princess Gusti Pembayun of Jogyakarta want to open one of the world’s most important education events, and challenge school leaders from across the globe to get behind the DeforestACTION project?  And why would she stand before this powerful leadership group and personally commit to enrolling another one million Indonesian students into the project?

Last week in London, the British Council hosted the annual Education World Forum.  This three day long event draws Ministers and senior policy makers from across the world to consider the future of education and was opened by Princess Gusi Pembayun, who spoke about the importance of large education systems embracing DeforestACTION.

During her address, the Princess highlighed the incredible work students from around the world had already undertaken through the project.  She spoke of the challenges faced by local people in Indonesia, and how education could help stop the destruction of the important rainforests, the orangutans, local industries, and protect the futures of the local people.

Her message was simple.  Deforestation is a global problem.  We must work together as a global community to solve it – beginning with our young people. New solutions are needed – more agile, more creative solutions.  She finished with a personal commitment – she will work to bring another one million Indonesian students into the program so they can interact with students around the world through the DeforestACTION online spaces, through new DeforestACTION fact sheets, teacher guides, and other resources that can be distributed to non-connected students.

So why what were the main reasons for such a commitment?   Here are some of the key drivers:

1. Access: Over 50% of students in Jogyakarta have access to the internet today, but in the near future, this will be 100%.  Connectivity will allow unprecedented opportunities for global collaboration.  DeforestACTION is one of the best ways for students and teachers to quickly connect, engage in collaborative projects, and to solve problems together.

2. Awareness of the problems of deforestation are the key to the solutions.  The more young people understand about the value of the forests, the importance of the wildlife, and the potential benefits of preserving both, the better. The new DeforestACTION resources make it easy and fun for students to increase awareness.

3. Empowering students to feel they can make a difference was a key theme in the presentations at the EWF.  Offering students a chance to take meaningful action to solve problems that are relevent to them is a global imperative.   DeforestACTION is a powerful channel for young people to explore issues, learn about the challenges, but best of all to propose solutions and take action.

4. Urgency – Time is running out.  Young people need to be educated about these issues quickly, before there are no more orangutans, before the peat is all destroyed, and before the future is bankrupted by corporate greed.  Education is the key.  There is no more time to waste.

The Princess and Dr. Willie Smits will spend another week travelling through Europe promoting DeforestACTION with packed houses and media conferences dominating their travels.   We wish them all the best.

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Earthwatchers Software Interface

Get Ready for EarthWatchers created by Geodan for DeforestACTION

In an earlier post, I explained the idea of how young people around the world could collaborate to save the rainforests, inititally in Indonesia, using satellite monitoring.

On July 27th, the genius team at Geodan, lead by Dr.Eduardo Dias, will join Dr. Willie Smits, Dr. Cathy Henkel and young people from around the world for the launch of the technology that will make this dream a reality. If you want to join the live webcast of the launch, register here!  It will be fantastic for teachers, students and anyone who cares about the future of the planet.

The following explanation and outline of this ground breaking software is a re-post from Dr.Eduardo Dias’ personal blog.


DeforestAction EarthWatchers: Empowering world citizens in tropical forest monitoring via the integration of Earth Observation, social media, human computation and collaborative intelligence.

DeforestACTION is a global project that brings together young people across the planet with the goal of stopping deforestation in Borneo and protecting the habitat of wild Orangutans. Join us at www.deforestaction.org

Among other objectives, students will be able to monitor rain forests via specially designed (web)tools and satellite imagery to provide near real-time intelligence required to halt illegal deforestation. The project will start as a pilot in the province of Sintang, West Kalimantan (Borneo Indonesia), where agreements are established with the local community chiefs and the governor who support this project and offered their executive power to take ground action in stopping illegal activities.

Threaten high-value pristine forest in Borneo was split into millions of unique small cells, and each cell can be allocated to unique participants (youngsters all over the world called EarthWatchers) who monitor it as new satellite imagery becomes available. When they suspect changes/cuts in the forest they will report it in the web system and, operating in a crowd-sourcing approach using social media Facebook , all participants can confirm/dis-confirm. The most suspected areas will be visited by a special team on the ground to prove the suspected activities, report back to the EarthWatchers and involve the local executive power to stop the illegal activities.

This project is unique as it is the first to involve human computation and collective intelligence in the analysis of SAR imagery: while optical data can easily be understood by untrained users (our target group), especially true for “true color” and “natural color composites, the same ease-of-understanding is not usually a characteristic applied to SAR data, where specific expert knowledge and sophisticated processing techniques are needed to derive useful information. Nevertheless, we propose to use the untrained (and unconditioned) spirit of the children (that is free from academic assumptions) to explore the SAR data and we expect that they will uncover patterns and fine issues that might never be uncovered in automated efforts. At the same time, the children will learn about the background technology and potential of SAR earth observation, multiplying the understanding, market and target base of SAR users for the coming 5 to 10 years.

The webgis is also meant as a powerful classroom support tool, as it will make available and accessible many other GIS layers (infrastructure, DEM, oil Palm plantations, biodiversity indexes, socio-economic factors) so that the students not only watch the land, but actually understand the inter-relationships that are playing a role in deforestation. Negotiations are ongoing with education ministries (e.g. Australia, Indonesia, the Netherlands) to make this tool and materials part of the standard curricula.

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Katherine Walraven from TakingITGlobal (TIG) is a brilliant educator. She’s also a passionate champion of transforming education and a key member of the always impressive TIG team.

TIG Website

DeforstAction launched on TIG

Today, she released the first draft of a guide for teachers on how to engage young people in DeforestAction.  Here’s an extract from the guide (find the full guide at www.takingitglobal.com/deforestaction):

DeforstAction Poster

The Teacher Guide Draft 1

As an outcome of the Microsoft Regional Innovative Education Forum in Singapore, DeforestACTION was created as a project-based learning opportunity for students to understand and take action on deforestation in the Asia Pacific.  Eight schools will collaborate with TakingITGlobal (TIG) to propose ideas and collaboratively design an action plan using social networking tools and resources, including blogs, discussion boards, video chat, podcasts and more.

This project is inspired by the book High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them written by renowned World Bank economist, Jean Francois Rischard.  In his book, Rischard argues that the fate of future generations depends on our capacity to quickly and effectively address 20 pressing global issues, including deforestation.

There are two issues related to deforestation: it is getting worse, not better, and the traditional approach to dealing with it, such as international treaties, is simply not measuring up.  The main challenge, he argues, is that we still haven’t caught up with the high-population, fact-paced, globalized and interconnected world that we are living in.  The rate and depth of globalization has far exceeded the development of our institutions and approaches to decision-making.
Identifying technology as a crucial tool in the fight to address increasingly complex and urgent global issues, Rischard notes that the “global issues networks” made possible through the internet should be utilized to keep governments accountable to the people they represent.  These networks of concerned citizens can make decision-making more inclusive by giving people the voice, and hold institutions, businesses, and organizations accountable by monitoring their compliance with globally recognized standards and commitments.

As schools are looking for ways to engage their students in real-world issues through their learning, this collaboration aims to empower students to take on challenges like deforestation through the use of technology.

Why Deforestation?

Deforestation – the Hidden Roots of Climate Change

Deforestation occurs when areas that used to be forested are converted for use in other ways such as logging or as agricultural ground.  The causes of deforestation the multiple and complex.  Local pressures arise from communities using forests to provide sources of food, fuel and farmland. Poverty and population pressure can lead inexorably to the loss of forest cover, trapping people in perpetual poverty. Whilst millions of people still cut down trees to make a living for their families, a major cause of deforestation is now large-scale agriculture driven by consumer demand. In recent decades deforestation has shifted from a largely state-initiated to an enterprise-driven process. The drivers of the demand for agricultural land vary globally. In Africa, it is primarily small-scale subsistence farming. In South America, it is large-scale farming enterprises, producing beef and soy for export markets. In South East Asia, the driver is somewhere between the two, with palm oil, coffee and timber the main products.

As a result, the destruction of forests beyond sustainable levels only increases global warming. Tropical forests cover about 15% of the world’s land surface.  Yet, they are being rapidly degraded and deforested, resulting
in the emission of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Approximately 14 million hectares – an area the size of Nicaragua – are converted for other land uses each year.  This loss accounts for one-fifth of total global carbon emissions, making deforestation the second largest contributor to global warming.  Forests therefore have a vital role to play in combating climate change.

In addition to carbon storage, the forest and it’s resources directly support the livelihoods of 90% of the 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty and are home to nearly 90% of the world’s biodiversity. Local communities depend on forests as a source of fuel, food, medicines and shelter. The loss of forests jeopardises poverty alleviation, and directly threatens Indigenous and forest-dependent peoples cultures.  Climate change will hit the poorest hardest and so reducing deforestation will help build their resilience to climate impacts.

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