3D Maps in the Philippines

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Deep in the tropical rainforests of the Philippines, new emerging technology is being used by indigenous people to protect their homeland. While most of the indigenous people that belong to the Mangyan tribes have never seen a computer in their life, 3D maps may provide the answer to keeping their tropical rainforests from being invaded by mining operations. The seven tribes that make up the Mangyan people total around 25,000, with most of them living in poor conditions in the tropical rainforests of the area. With a low literacy rate, the tribes have asked for help in constructing the paperwork needed to provide their claim to legal ownership of the lands.

The assistance has largely come from the European Union, which has sent experts in 3D maps technology to help create a physical model of the lands that are owned by the Mangyan indigenous people. For over 5 years, survey teams have assisted in locating the boundaries of the tribal land and have served as intermediaries between the tribes and the local governments. With the 3D maps that have been created, the Mangyan people can ask for valid ownership that will protect them from the mining operations that are rapidly encroaching on their grounds.

It is yet to be seen whether the 3D maps will earn the necessary protection of the lands from the mining operations, but the use of the technology in the remote locations is being noticed and could serve as a precedent for legal and political issues in other areas of the world, such as the tropical rainforests of Brazil or the vast expanses of Africa that have remained unmapped. With 3D maps, these indigenous people may have found a way to claim ownership of lands that have belonged to them for hundreds and thousands of years.