What is the MAPA Project?

Nowhere is the need for conservation more obvious, nowhere is it harder, than in Africa. The MAPA Project is an initiative that strives to make African conservation more accessible and visible.

[raised Quote]
“Only when people know will they care. Only when they care will they act. Only when they act can the world change”.
Jane Goodall

The MAPA Project started making African conservation more accessible and visible by collating descriptive and GPS data of all the major protected areas in Africa - road by road, camp by camp - to build the most comprehensive park catalogue in existence. That map is available on Google Earth.

From there we began to recognise the hundreds of other critical - but unprotected - areas.

And finally we have added a conservation project database, a work in progress being built one project at a time by the men and women who run them.

Our goal is to make African conservation more visible and accessible.

  • We want to world to see what’s at stake and where.
  • We want it to see which areas are being protected and which ones are not.
  • We want it to see what conservationists are doing, where they do it, how they do it.
  • And then we want people to use this information to act.

What we do is to provide an online database and a map. Any conservationists can access the database and put their work on the map..

What we imagine is a picture of the conservation effort in Africa. At a simple level this will let everyone know what is happening and where. But, it will also be a place for you to find funders, and funders to find you; a place to research your field and be found by researchers who share your interests; a place to share experiences and learn from the experience of others.

Our Initiatives

MAPA’s Registry of African Conservation is a crowd-sourced database and map of conservation areas and efforts on the African continent. It includes Protected Areas, Conservation Points of Interest and Conservation Projects.

Anyone with a conservation project can go to our online user-interface and add their work to the database. Simply log in and add a profile for your project, for the world to see.

Go to the map
Add your Project
Download our Google Earth Layer


Mapping Africa’s Protected Areas
Most conservation efforts are clustered around the network of formally protected parks and reserves spread throughout Africa. The MAPA Project spent its early days cataloguing and describing these protected areas.

They can be found on the MAPA layer for Google Earth and have been enhanced with the addition of over 1,300 unprotected areas of special environmental value.


Google Geo Training
Through our Google Geo Workshops we connect with African conservationists and leave them with tools to visualise and communicate their conservation efforts.

Tools we teach: Google Earth, Google Maps, Fusion Tables, ODK, Google Map Maker, Google Maps Engine, Spreadsheet Mapper.

Read about past trainings
For announcements of upcoming trainings, follow us on Twitter, Google+ or Facebook


The MAPA Team

March Turnbull
Director and Founder
March started his career in conservation at the Peace Parks Foundation and, as a keen overlander and part-time journalist, he has been working towards a single online reference for all of Africa’s protected areas, for a number of years.
Johann Groenewald
Johann is the director for Tracks4 Africa, the foremost builder of GPS maps for Africa, and a Director of the MAPA Project. The MAPA Project would never have got off the ground without Tracks4Africa’s commitment.
Alta De Vos
Project manager
Alta manages MAPA’s content. She is a Zoologist by training and received her PhD from the University of Cape Town in 2010.
Peter Levey
Peter, engineer and adventurer, does all the quality control of the rich content, and has done some of the tougher mapping legs. He also keeps the rest of us in line.