The communities of Canchayllo and Miraflores in the Nor Yauyos Cochas Landscape Reserve in Peru are the first of three communities to build 3D models of their territories. These models are part of the process of formulating participatory water and grassland management plans in both communities as part of the no-regret EbA measures. The third model will be built with the community of Tanta. These communities all together form part of the Mountain EbA project’s pilot sites where EbA measures are implemented.
3D models are a widely used tool for planning, communication and conflict resolution. A scaled model is also the best way of intuitively representing complex information such as distance, altitude and size which is usually shown in two dimensions, such as in maps. Maps are not easily understood (“read”) by people that are not accustomed to them, but a 3D model needs no previous training. The exercise of building the models is part of a participatory planning scheme designed to help communities better understand their natural resources, ecosystems, livelihoods and vulnerability to climate change, as well as their values, their cultural and natural heritage and strengthen local knowledge.
Local participation and knowledge in building the model is key for creating ownership of it and the representation of the territory within it. Previous knowledge of maps or GIS is not required; just 30 minutes of an introduction on what contour lines are is necessary. A base map of contour lines was provided as well as the other materials for building the model. Both in Miraflores and Canchayllo the participation of school children and youth, and the Reserve’s staff was exemplary. They delved into the work for over 8 hours and managed to finish the large models (120 cm x 240 cm) in record time (just one day).
Nevertheless, building the models is just the first part of the planning exercise. Now the communities need first to conceptually design the legend and then map all the elements into the model. Rivers, lakes, roads, paths, fields, grasslands, houses, trees and forests need to be placed in their respective locations. Local knowledge of the territory and a little guidance is more than enough to accurately represent real features in the model.
The goal of the scaled models is multipurpose. Firstly it helps the communities organize their interventions on the ground and make a better, more planned use of the local natural resources, be them ecosystem services or goods, or organize their livelihoods according to the available space. Secondly a 3D model is an extremely powerful communication tool both within the community and for visitors. With a simple glance one can “travel” from the peaks to the valleys and get a good idea of the territory’s complexity. Thirdly, the model becomes an object that transmits identity to the local community as they feel they are represented. It becomes a matter of pride to the population to show others the model and all it contains instilling a sense of ownership of the land.