Jacob KIMAGL, Papua New Guinea

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Jacob Kimagl, Wildlife Conservation Society, Papua New Guinea

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SCGIS Profile    d


2016 Presentation (abstract below) 

(please note we missed filming Jacob's SCGIS conference talk, this is instead the talk he gave at the scholar's training camp about all of his work and projects in Papua New Guinea) 


2016 Scgis Paper Abstract,   from “Climate Change: Impacts and Coastal Resilience Planning " SESSION
Low lying small islands in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are at risk due to sea level rise (SLR) as a result of climate change. However, local people know very little or do not know how they will be affected and the PNG government is not currently in a position to advise them. We conducted SLR mapping at eight different island communities in two provinces (New Ireland and Manus Provinces) to identify vulnerable zones on those islands with the help of locals. Laser levels, laser detectors, levelling staffs, and handheld GPS units were used to accurately pick up coastal elevations with reference to the Highest Astronomical Tide (HAT). Local knowledge of HAT formed the baseline for the survey from which 0.5 m and 1 m contour points were added to represent likely sea level rise in the next 50 and 100 years respectively. Simple SLR maps were then generated and repatriated to the communities in order to facilitate local planning and decision making regarding SLR adaptation. Many communities were alarmed with the implication of the mapping and have started devising plans as a result. The inhabitants of Andra Island were particularly concerned – as no natural point on the island was higher than 1 m above HAT.


2019 Status:    Linkedin Profile

Wildlife Conservation Society Profile: "Jacob Kimagl is the GIS Officer of WCS PNG Program. He joined WCS in 2014 and has worked in WCS landscapes and seascapes throughout PNG to conduct clan boundary mapping, land use planning, community participatory mapping, participatory 3 Dimensional modelling, social mapping, marine spatial planning, and field data collection for various projects. His roles also includes assisting WCS staff, project partners, and local stakeholders in the communities WCS works with to provide GIS and mapping support where and when required. He has been involved in protected area prioritization exercise using Marxan in collaboration with the University of Queensland. In 2016, Jacob was a successful recipient of the scholarship program with the Society for Conservation GIS (SCGIS) funded by the Environmental System Research Institute (Esri) to acquire trainings on Advanced ArcGIS Environmental Analysis and Web GIS using the ArcGIS platform. Jacob holds a bachelor’s degree in Geographical Information Sciences from the PNG University of Technology."


2019 Interview:  Protecting the unique biodiversity of PNG's Manus Island - An Interview with Radio New Zealand




2016 Profile:

*-Organization name: Wildlife Conservation Society
*-Organization full street address (in your local format): Rohanoka Streetd
*-Organization full mailing address, if different: Wildlife Conservation Society, Papua New Guinea Programme, PO Box 277, 
Eastern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea
*-Country: Papua New Guinea
*-Work phone with country and area code:(+675) 532 3494
*-Work fax with country and area code: (+675) 532 3180
*-Main email:jkimagl at wcs.org
*-Organization Web site URL if any: wcspng.org


describe your current conservation gis work: I graduated from the only technological university (Papua New Guinea University of Technology-PNG Unitech) in my country with a Bachelor’s degree in Geographical Information Science. My cohort were the pioneer graduates when the course was first introduced in to the Department of Surveying and Land Studies. This has become my foundation for my career. As a GIS Officer, I carry out a range of tasks in the day to day operation of the organization to achieve our goal, which is conservation. During my studies at the university, I carried out a project based on the use of GIS in monitoring a wildlife management area: a case study of the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP) in the Kabuwm area of Morobe province, Papua New Guinea. The project was part of my final dissertation submitted to the department of Surveying and Land Studies in fulfillment of my studies. In 2011; I was engaged with the PNG Research and Conservation Foundation – a local NGO based in PNG that primarily focuses on conservation through education work. That was after my 2nd year of studies at the university. My dengagement with the organization was part of my industrial training during my vacation period. During the training, I worked under the supervision of a senior GIS officer Mr. Stanley Jacob to carry out basic mapping and hands on GIS and GPS work for a period of three months. Our main task was gathering data and doing clan mapping of the Crater Mountains Wildlife Management Area. After completing my studies in 2013 I got accepted to work as the GIS Officer for the Wildlife Conservation Society PNG Program. I then started my career with WCS in January 2014 and from then on my interest and attitude towards conservation, science and community relationships has grown deeper.

When joining WCS in 2014, I worked under the REDD+ Project (Reducing Emissions by limiting Deforestations and land Degradation project which aims at creating avenues for reforestation, forest conservation and sustainable forest management by providing basic community projects to locals for looking after their forest), funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in Manus Province, a small island province directly north of the mainland Papua New Guinea. My main task was to map customary land boundaries and produce simple clan maps for locals/landowners to clearly visualize their land boundaries and important landmarks within their clan areas. The mapping activity also helped them in land dispute resolutions and identification of traditional land boundaries for the younger generations who don’t know their boundaries. Clan maps were then used as a tool for land-use and community resource management planning (please find attachment 1 is a sample clan map for clans mapped in Manus Island). The project resulted in signing of a Conservation Agreement between the Wildlife Conservation Society and the local communities for an area of more than 20,000 which saw the protection of forest in return for basic infrastructures to the community such as: a school building, community hall, and foot bridges.

In 2015 I worked on another project also funded by the Australians DFAT on Climate Change Adaptation (CCA). My main role in this project was to use low cost tools for climate dadaptation planning to develop community self-help action plans in coastal communities throughout our projectsites. Under this activity we conducted a Sea level Rise (SLR) mapping by which detailed mapping of small island communities was carried out to determine the vulnerability of those communities to sea level rise in the next 50 and 100 years. Colorful and simple SLR maps and analysis were repatriated back to the communities which are now forming the basis climate change adaptation plans. Four interns studying GIS and Remote Sensing in PNG Unitech were trained under my supervision under this project for four weeks intensive field work and data processing. It was part of their training and also their involvement helped speed up our work with their extra hands. A great opportunity was created for those students to actually break out of their student realm and experience the real GIS work and get hands on training. (Please find attachment 2 is a SLR map of one of the small coral atoll island in Manus province of Papua New Guinea. The island is less than a meter above sea level. It is at higher risk to flooding during higher tides. )


Please describe what is the most unique and the most challenging about the conservation/GIS work that you do: Doing conservation work in developing regions such as in Papua New Guinea is not easy. We work with our local partners who traditionally/customarily own about 80–90 percent of PNG’s land. Locals in the villages have entirely different perceptions towards conservation. Some think conservation is to do with taking away their right or restricting them from accessing their natural resources on their land. That is the most difficult mentality we work on clarifying. We encountered complications and during the REDD+ project when the activity actually resulted in provoking outstanding land disputes which were 20-30 years in the making. However, the maps we produce from the mapping of their land boundaries helped them to sort out some of their disputes. The communities have since realized that conservation is not about restricting them from accessing their resources on their land but actually to help them manage their resources sustainably. With pressing issues on logging, road development and mining activities in the area, it makes our work challenging at our project sites. We provide locals with advice through awareness and research report presentations on different aspects ranging from legal awareness, land rights, prioritizing their development goals, and information on key plant and animal species in order for them to make informed decisions over their natural resources. Locals are the ones who are going to take lead in the sustainable management of their resources so we prioritize their involvement. But ultimately the decision about how their land gets used and whether conservation becomes a priority is their own.