Introduction to Forest Mapping and Monitoring Tools for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities

In this self-paced course, you will gain basic information about popular forest mapping and monitoring tools and understand how they can help Indigenous Peoples and other frontline communities* better manage their lands, territories, and resources.

Special note: * While the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) bestows rights to Indigenous Peoples only, this course aims to build the capacity of Indigenous Peoples as well as other frontline communities - such as Afro-descendents, pastoralists, fisherfolk, and others - that depend on forests and have helped to safeguard it over time.

Start date: To be announced
 Course type: Self-paced course
 Languages: English, Portuguese
 Estimated effort: 3-5 hours per module
Duration: 6 modules
Partners: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Equator Initiative, Climate and Forests Team, NASA’s Applied Remote Sensing Training Program (ARSET), World Resources Institute, Nature4Climate, Digital Democracy, Rainforest Foundation US, Conservation Metrics.

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Indigenous Peoples are the guardians and the largest shareholders of the world’s remaining biodiversity. Conserving and monitoring biodiversity is intertwined with their livelihoods and food security. Indigenous Peoples have managed territories of these biodiverse landscapes over millennia. Yet their rights and access to these lands continue to be violated worldwide. Indigenous Peoples are still being displaced today, their forest tenure rights are violated, and their role as custodians of biodiversity and nature is undermined. 

There are other frontline communities, such as Afro-descendents, pastoralists, fisherfolk, and others, who have also been protecting nature and facing challenges.

There is an abundance of spatial data, tools, and resources available to help protect, monitor, and manage forests worldwide. However, these resources are often not accessible to the Indigenous Peoples or other frontline communities who need them most. This course will support Indigenous or other frontline communities in mapping, monitoring, and managing community forests by providing introductory guidance on the use of existing forest mapping and monitoring tools, outlining their advantages and disadvantages, and guiding participants to select the tools that are optimal for their goals. The course will also discuss the issues of data governance, ownership and management, data safety and sovereignty, and explain how to leverage data for advocacy efforts to protect forests.

Course highlights and outcomes

  • Understand the basic features of the most popular forest mapping and monitoring tools
  • Explore rich learning materials, best practices, and case studies, diving into more detailed content based on specific needs
  • Learn how to select the most appropriate forest mapping and monitoring tools for your context
  • Receive a certificate of completion from the course partners
  • Join a community of practice working on forest mapping and monitoring

Learning objectives

By the time you complete the course, you will be able to understand:

  • The role of Indigenous Peoples and other frontline communities in forest protection and management 
  • The basic features and applications of the most popular forest monitoring tools
  • The importance of data governance and data management
  • How to effectively use data for advocacy

Course topics

The course will cover the following topics: 

  • Module 1: Introduction to Indigenous Peoples’ Role and Rights in Forest Stewardship 
  • Module 2: Basics of Forest Mapping and Monitoring
  • Module 3: Mapping and Monitoring Tools and Resources
  • Module 4: Data Governance, Sovereignty and Management
  •  Module 5: Data for Advocacy and Action 
  • Module 6: Key Takeaways


Click “Enroll” to register for the course. When you register for the course, you will be added to the course mailing list. When the course becomes available, you will receive an email from the course organizers with an invitation to start learning.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact the Learning for Nature team at

Pre-course survey

To make your learning experience more focused and engaged, we invite you to fill out a short pre-course survey

Your inputs will allow us to customize the information presented in the course and co-create the course content with you. This survey will take about 5 minutes to complete.

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