Support Environment Staff in GIS Training, Especially Using QGIS Tool


Open to all RPCVs

Activity/project background

SEMARNAT seeks to strengthen the technical capacities of its personnel in geographic information systems as a useful and relevant tool for making decisions regarding the management of forests, natural protected areas, and urban development.

CONAFOR promotes and executes actions in the area of forest protection in order to prevent, combat and control the presence of pests and forest fires to reduce the deterioration that these phenomena may have on forest ecosystems.

CONANP seeks that its personnel have the ability to analyze, interpret and integrate geographic information that contributes to the knowledge and study of the characteristics of the territory in order to promote decision-making based on technically supported elements that allow biodiversity conservation.

SEMARNAT Tlaxcala is in the process of developing a new ecological zoning program. An important component of this process is the integration and systematization of information utilizing Geographic Information System (GIS).

Virtual Service Pilot Participants (VSPPs) are requested to support SEMARNAT technical teams in the use of GIS. The VSPPs will support trainings and workshops as well as collaborate with Host Country Counterparts on the creation of guides for future use. Each VSPP will be assigned to one of the below Host Country Partners based on the participants’ skills and experience and the partner’s specific needs. The experience these partners have had with Peace Corps is highly variable. In some cases they have collaborated with volunteers since 2007 and in other cases they have never had volunteers. However, all of them have received information about the VSPP initiative and are very excited to participate in it.

Virtual service engagement and tasks

The VSPP will engage in the following tasks, in collaboration with their Host Country Partners:

• Co-conduct an assessment to determine GIS needs, processes, identification of free GIS software and data available on the internet, and knowledge and skills of technical staff
• Co-define with the counterpart the parameters and topics for workshops, which may include: use of Geographic Information Systems through QGIS software, management of satellite images from different virtual sources, analysis of spatial-temporal images, assessment of damage caused by forest fires and pests, forest cover analysis
• Collaborate on the development of practical guides for the use of satellite images for topics identified in the assessment, such as the evaluation of forest fires, quantification of damage to forest ecosystems, etc.

This engagement is expected to be approximately 12 weeks. VSPPs are expected to engage on the tasks listed above for an estimated 5-15 hours per week.

Meetings between VSPPs and Host Country Counterparts will take place during normal office hours, Mexico time. Specific times will be determined during orientation.

The Host Country Counterpart will have access to Zoom, WhatsApp and e-mail for regular communication and collaboration.

Per the Child Protection Code of Conduct, when engaging online with minors (0-18), two adults must be present.

Optional additional activities

The Peace Corps mission is to promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals:

  1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Goal 1 will be achieved through the VSPP's engagement and completion of the above tasks. The counterpart and VSPP may also choose to identify an activity that aligns with Goal 2. Additionally, the VSPP may identify a Goal 3 activity to implement during their engagement. See recommendations and tools for Goal 3 activities.

Essential qualifications

Education: Bachelor's degree in environmental science, biology, forestry, geography, forestry, geomantic, or related field

Language: Advanced Spanish

• 3 years of experience developing Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
• 3 years of experience with open-source geographic information systems (Qgis)

Intercultural skills and motivation: Flexible, strong cross-cultural agility, high tolerance for ambiguity, able to work independently, resourceful, creative, and genuinely motivated and capable to serve virtually

Desired qualifications

Education: Master's in environmental science, biology, forestry, geography, forestry, geomantic, or related fields

Technical Skills:
• Familiarity with virtual engagement and communication
• Basic knowledge about protected natural areas of Mexico
• Basic or advanced knowledge in forest fires and fire behavior
• Knowledge of ecological planning processes

• Extensive knowledge and 5 years of experience in the use of GIS in forestry topics, especially fires and pests
• Virtual training design and delivery experience
• Experience in teaching or training others in GIS

Partner background

Name: The Participant will be collaborating with one of the decentralized bodies of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT)

Type of entity: Government

Mission and goals:

To incorporate, in the different areas of society and the public function, criteria and instruments that ensure the optimal protection, conservation and use of the country's natural resources, thus forming a comprehensive and inclusive environmental policy that allows achieving sustainable development. To comply with the above, SEMARNAT agencies work on four priority areas:
• The conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems and their biodiversity
• Pollution prevention and control
• The integral management of water resources
• The fight against climate change

Terms and conditions of engagement

VSPPs will be engaging with the host country partner, in coordination with Peace Corps post staff, remotely from the US. They should have access to a computer, internet, and telephone in order to enable direct engagement with the Peace Corps overseas office and the Host Country Counterpart assigned by the host country partner.

Orientation with the host country partner will be provided, within the designated virtual service hours, during the first week of virtual service via an online presentation and discussion. The host country partner will provide an overview of its organization, the local context, and how they envision collaborating with the VSPP.

The VSPP will have regular check-ins with their counterpart and bi-weekly check-ins with Peace Corps staff. Spending unstructured time with counterparts can be critical to relationship-building and is encouraged through activities such as coffee chats and informal calls within the weekly 5-15 hours.

Engagement-specific safety and security

The VSPP will receive an orientation on Peace Corps’ Child Protection Policy and how it relates to online engagement along with IT security best practices. The VSPP will be expected to follow safety and security guidelines for online engagement to ensure their safety and that of the Host Country Partner and their counterpart, and any beneficiaries of the engagement.

Supervision requirements

The VSPP will report to a designated Peace Corps staff member. The VSPP will be expected to abide by the Virtual Service Pilot Participant and Donation Agreement and Participant Principles of Engagement. The VSPP will also be expected to check in with the designated host country counterpart as assigned by the host county partner.

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