by Graciela Peters-Guarin and Michael K. McCall
Many constraints are holding back the use of spatial information technologies, especially GIS, for local community mapping, measuring and monitoring forest carbon services. There is the poor availability of user-friendly methodologies which hampers the use of these technologies by laypeople. High-cost specialists from consultancies, universities, government agencies, etc are then required to control the information processes. Moreover, there are very few freeware computer applications available to acquire and manipulate geo-referenced information and databases. Most of the methods available make use of expensive software and mobile devices out of reach of the budgets of communities and local NGOs.
Community members utilising participatory mapping, measuring and participatory GIS for carbon stocks and changes also leads to strong benefits for capacity-building and management and planning initiatives by the communities  : - Skills development and capacity-building with the community;
- Associated with that, increased information and confidence in dealing with the carbon professionals;
- Improved reliable and deeper information on forest conditions, degradation, community forest management, and conflicts identification.
- Obtaining historical information - Community ownership of the data produced, such as the stock and sequestration
- data and maps; which gives them at least a better opportunity to control the
- data; - Heightened attitudes of community 'ownership' of, and entitlement to, the carbon
- project itself; - Using the mapped data and the PGIS method for applying for other payment for
- environmental services (PES) finance in hydrological services, biodiversity, etc.
- Good potential for utilising the participatory mapping and PGIS techniques for other community purposes, such as making land claims, resolving land conflicts, and collaborative land use planning.
The positive benefits of this are manifold, aside from the reduced measurement costs, compared with the communities having to pay outsider's fees of professional agents, consultants or researchers.