Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cape Reserves Help Schools' GIS Project

The City of Cape Town's nature reserves are assisting schools with Geographic Information System (GIS), a new section in the geography curriculum of South African schools.

The nature reserves are providing school children with an opportunity to use hand-held Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) devices in a practical and beneficial way.

At a function in the city's Tygerberg Nature Reserve on Wednesday, learners will find out about careers in nature conservation and GIS.

Everyone will have some healthy exercise in the fresh air participating in a treasure hunt on Tygerberg Hill using their GPS units.

The schools participated in 2007 in the first year of the high schools Youth, GIS and Urban Nature project funded by the Table Mountain Fund, World Wildlife Fund -South Africa and the city.

As part of this project, which forms part of the city's Youth Environmental School (YES) Programme, Grade 11s from seven local schools took part in geography field trips to Rondevlei and Tygerberg Nature Reserves.

They used the GPS units to find their way to sites where they could observe and record plants, animals and the physical surroundings. They took digital photographs, monitored the weather and recorded their findings on a computer database. They then linked all their information to an electronic map of the nature reserve, using the GIS.

Schools will help the reserve to record the plants and animals found in an area that will be burned next summer as part of the reserve's field management programme. After the fire, they will keep regular records of what plants and animals return, providing very useful ecological information for the nature reserve.

Senior Geography teachers from schools close to the three nature reserves involved in this project are welcome to contact education officers to enquire about booking a GIS field trip.

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