Vietnam: Forty members of the Chau Ma ethnic minority group have been trained as professional forest supervisors who can use the GPS for their work in Da Teh commune, Bao Lam district in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong in Vietnam.
The GPS training course took place at the end of last year, as part of a project to aid the preservation of biodiversity in Vietnam.
The project is financed by the Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment and Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.
Lam Dong was chosen as the first of Vietnam’s provinces in which the project would be implemented. Associate professor Dr. Bao Huy, deputy head of the Southeast Asian Network for Agroforestry Education, was in charge of training the Chau Ma.
Huy recently took the trainees to the Loc Bac secondary forest so that they could practice. He opened his GPS, chose a spot in the forest, gave the device to Ka Cuong, a trainee, and said, “Take us there to survey the area.”
Ka Cuong intended to take a longer route, but Huy asked him to cut across the forest. Huy said that a forest supervisor should follow any route to record changes in the surroundings.
Ka Cuong and his Chau Ma friends were confused by the GPS device at first. However, after being guided by Huy for a moment, he finally said, “Going across the forest is about two kilometers.”
The GPS had to work continuously because Ka Cuong used it so proficiently. He then taught other trainees like Ka Chinh and Ka Rieu how to operate it as well.
“It is best to let them guide each other in their own language,” Huy said. By the time they reached the destination, each trainee knew how to use the GPS.
The Chau Ma will use GPS to report all activities related to 56,000 hectares of forest in Loc Bac, Loc Bao and Loc Lam communes of Bao Lam district to staff at the biodiversity preservation project.