JGIS> Vol.6 No.2, April 2014

Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) for Regional Mapping and Environmental Awareness

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ABSTRACT

Giant Hogweed is a poisonous invasive weed in Latvia that poses significant threat to biodiversity and human health. Local residents are afraid and have very special concerns about the safety of their children because the plant causes phytophotodermatitis (severe burns), painful blistering, permanent scarring and blindness when the sap of the plant comes in contact with the human body and is exposed to sunlight. This study utilizes public participation GIS (PPGIS) involving Latvian high school students as data collectors to monitor the geographic distribution of Giant Hogweed in Northeast Latvia. This paper also explores challenges with implementing such a public program, how to maximize participation, and how participation impacts environmental awareness of participants. In this study we also assessed the accuracy of PPGIS-collected data and how the utilization of such data impacts mapping and monitoring of Giant Hogweed in the study area. Results indicate that this PPGIS program is effective in facilitating data collection for monitoring Giant Hogweed in Latvia. Tested methods of increasing participation have proven largely unsuccessful to date. Statistical analyses of survey responses indicate participation had a marked effect on sensitivity towards environmental issues. Accuracy assessments indicate that quality of point data collected by participants is sufficient for mapping and for use as ground verification.

Cite this paper

Fonji, S. , Larrivee, M. and Taff, G. (2014) Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) for Regional Mapping and Environmental Awareness. Journal of Geographic Information System, 6, 135-149. doi: 10.4236/jgis.2014.62015.

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