A taste of OpenStreetMap, technical skills and a lot of patience for a citizen mapping and the valuing of scrubland heritage

Card's author : Manon Pierrel - Association Collectif des Garrigues
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies : Members of the Collectif des Garrigues managed to converge two of their projects which, at first sight, seemed far apart. One project was on participatory mapping, requiring some technical skills, internet tools…and a project to learn about and value the scrubland heritage lead by people who are passionate about history, books and the scrublands…These two "groups" met within the Collectif des Garrigues to set up a lovely collective project, rich in knowledge and innovative! The main goal of this project is to contribute to the dynamics of the network between the actors in the scrublands by co-drawing interactive maps (with collective contributions) as a support to show the rich heritage in the area, to share knowledge and to bring value into the scrubland territory.

Collective areas developed by the network members

The members of the Collectif des Garrigues (350 people) started a common project in several "areas". The goal was to create, bring value to and transmit common goods (knowledge, photographs, written documents and thoughts) on the scrubland territory.
Since 2010, several works have been developed, such as:
  • preparing a Scrubland Atlas (a co-written book for the public at large including all areas of knowledge relating to the territory – to be published in the autumn of 2013),
  • creating a shared photo gallery,
and also more "themed" work on:
  • harvesting in scrublands, and a compilation of local recipes,
  • scrubland heritage, dry stone and dry stone cabins (Capitelles), coal furnaces and inventories,
  • or even works on the discovery of tools, such as the sound media or participatory mapping.

The network members who participate in all these work areas have spaces on the Internet (wikis) to work on and produce content together and at a distance. They have discussion lists, co-writing tools (Etherpad) and "software" that allows them to organise their work (face-to-face for logistics or the distribution of work) and tools to disseminate their work. Many of these work areas perform very well, make rapid progress, and some are even at the stage of completion (especially the Atlas) while new projects are created almost every month. The network members develop the work areas themselves and facilitate participation in the different work pillars. Once the first productions are ready, works are assessed and disseminated at large, especially though their monthly newsletter and the website of the Collectivité des Garrigues, This way of working makes members want to continue working together to develop some projects in greater depth...and this creates an even greater convergence of work areas and the establishment of new ones. The proof is in the pudding!

The network members have decided to cross two of their collective work areas

Two work areas, one on the scrubland heritage and one on participatory mapping of a territory, were developed in parallel first in 2011 and then in 2012 with a first conviviality meeting to get to know each other and exchange ideas, the Rendez-vous des Garrigues (Scrubland Excursions) are organised every month, and remote group work sending and receiving emails and co-writing collective summaries. Both these work areas followed their own organization and work method. Gradually, they found an interesting area to explore and converge around, leading to the project of participatory mapping of the heritage to bring the inhabitants of the area onboard to hear of the knowledge and management of the territory where they live.
How did the members of the Collectif des Garrigues work to get these two work areas to progress independently? How were they linked further on?

The project to bring value to local knowledge and know-how

This project to gather the knowledge and know-how of the scrublands is, in fact, the story of the scrubland project! Since 2004, the goal of the Collectif des Garrigues has been to discuss the future of the territory, to share the knowledge acquired and dotted around the scrublands to learn to know more about it and to manage it better.
The theme knowledge on "heritage" gained momentum in 2011 with the organising of the Rendez-vous des Garrigues (Scrubland Excursions) on this theme. Dry-stone heritage is particularly an identity feature of the scrublands and the structures (associations or groups) in charge of bringing value to and restoring this heritage on a local level often face the same problems in all scrubland territories. That is why they needed to meet and take some time to think collectively so they could advance collectively in some projects.
After this Scrubland Excursion, some concrete actions were put in place:
  • discovering the different heritage sites in the scrublands of Gard and Hérault together. (This was done in the autumn of 2012 with a heritage-themed Scrubland Excursion in Poussan (34)).
  • making a directory of associations specialising on the territory to enrich the experiences and exchanges within the group.
  • pooling the documents drafted by heritage actors (presentation leaflets for the sites, studies and inventories).
For these projects to succeed, network members used document sharing tools (Google Drive for excel spreadsheets), and exchanged many emails (using the discussion list created especially for heritage).
In the autumn of 2012, with all the exchanges on the list, a second Scrubland Excursion was organised on this theme. That is when the idea emerged of creating a directory of directories of all the dry-stone cabins in the scrubland territories to end up with a map of the areas with these constructions (400,000 Ha.)
One of the members of the heritage group decided to be in charge of the project.
  • The first work was done there and then, during the Scrubland Excursion, with around twenty participants, with the aim of drawing on large paper maps of the territory all those areas with dry-stone cabins.
  • next, a large part of the work involved sending and receiving emails. There was quite a large mobilisation to have a directory of directories of the territory; this was done by the associations and structures interested in doing so.
  • then there was a significant part of summarising to feed the excel spreadsheet: Determining the areas rich in dry-stone cabins and huts: Gard-Hérault.
  • The following information was collected by department and large landscape area: if a location study (or inventory) existed, the name of the author, structure, number of dry-stone cabins (estimated or known) and the number of them in good state of conservation, if they had been mapped or not, and some general remarks.
  • at the same time we were able to gather and computerise the studies we had received to publish them on the Internet platform of the Collectif des Garrigues,
  • in two months, the map was done. It will serve to illustrate one of the articles in the Scrubland Atlas.

A second work area, the dynamics of free citizen mapping to bring life to a territory

For this work area, the associations Outils-Réseaux, and Tiriad pushed us and encouraged us to discover OpenStreetMap and all that goes with it…They came to us with a one-day training session on OSM followed by a Scrubland Excursion focusing on this tool so we could see what to expect from this approach of free mapping of a territory. This excursion was slightly more technical but it was still able to attract around fifteen people to it. Foregoing members of the network (!) who perceived the interest in this kind of initiatives to bring value to their knowledge on the territory.
This training session took place in Gignac (34) in April 2012, and was followed by a carto-party on site to continue attracting people. The idea for each of these stages was to learn about the data collected and how to put them on-line to gradually specialise in mapping elements that were of our interest (especially heritage). At each carto-party we were able to attract new people.
Since the spring of 2012 a healthy group of around forty have continued with the project "cartogarrigue". They have a simple discussion list to exchange and work together which is extremely active and reactive, and convivial with the help of the Collectif des Garrigues network that helps with the organisation and logistics.
In a first stage, the group "cartogarrigue" took some time to learn to use the tool and to build a common discourse. Then it started to train in real life with the organisation of carto-parties in the territories. The idea of mapping the heritage elements was suggested quite quickly, especially because the group members established many links between their work and that of the heritage group, working in parallel…Invitations were sent and there is room for everyone to contribute their knowledge and experiences in each of the two work areas. This group movement, and the overlapping interest lead to the creation of a OSM glossary adapted to the scrublands with vocabulary specific to the territory. (Olive yards, limestone kilns, dry-stone houses and huts…) and tags associated to them.

Today, the convergence of these two projects offers nice perspectives for partnerships, common projects and common financing opportunities

These two convergent dynamics have lead to a common response to a tender called by the metropolitan area of Nimes in its framework of sustainable development policies for 2013. Participatory heritage mapping to engage citizens in knowing and managing the land in which they live.
The submitted project consists in organising a session to give information and exchange experiences on collaborative mapping. To prepare this project and introduce the experiences of territories that participate in these dynamics, the special glossary on scrublands was made, preparing a carto-party programme for the year collectively. The idea is to work in close partnership with all participants in both these work areas, OSM contributors, the leaders of these two areas and associations or groups interested in heritage…
Other partners joined in later:
  • collaboration with the SILAT masters' degree: Localised Information System for Land Use Planning (in French). The team of professors would like to have a themed approach on mapping, to map heritage more than a city or town…
  • a similar collaboration with the school " SupAgro" in Montpellier.
  • Also, the group cartogarrigue will be mobilised to explain its experience in organising a carto-party with the Carré d'Art in the city of Nimes…
For each of its partners, the Collectif des Garrigues is the reference source for organising scrubland heritage mappings.

The work areas also continue to work independently...

For the project on free mapping on the territory, the Collectif des Garrigues would like to develop a mapping web interface to disseminate the themed maps or the knowledge maps on the scrublands (geology, water resources, bushfire risks…) on the site of the Live Scrubland Encyclopaedia. With a second section and placing a particular emphasis on establishing a participatory tool to make a directory of all the different information and data that are relevant to the future land use in the scrublands (displacements, proximity services, agriculture).
For the heritage project, it would seem interesting to continue with the discussions and to contribute knowledge in the form of collaborative work areas. Especially through co-writing articles and themes to discuss such as the type of buildings, dry-stone huts in literature or these huts in relation to land ownership…for example.

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The Collectif des Garrigues, a network of actors at the service of the scrubland territories in Gard and Hérault

Scrublands have a rich diversity of endemic wildlife and plants, a history and an ancient culture that is strongly linked to the origins of human activities (shepherds and coal producers, dry-stone huts and other dry-stone buildings); scrublands also have a rich diversity of landscapes. Until now, they have not been paid much attention and have often been considered as "the underbelly between the Cévennes and the Languedoc Coast" and have never had a structuring project; the scrublands of Gard and Hérault let themselves be discovered and become organised to state their own identity.
Therefore, actors on the territory (researchers, elected members, managers, inhabitants and users) came together to broaden their knowledge, their experiences with the aim of gaining a better understanding a better grasp on and a better management of these scrublands. The Collectif des Garrigues is born! It aims to bring together and bring value to the experiences and knowledge on the scrublands. To contribute to bring actors closer to the territory. Finally, it aims to start a reflection process on the future of the scrublands, preserving and developing the specificities of these lands, respecting the livelihoods of its inhabitants.
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