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In this Smart Forests Radio episode, we speak with Jen Castro, co-director of Awana Digital (formerly Digital Democracy), about Mapeo, an open-source, offline-first toolset for forest monitoring and territory mapping. Jen discusses how Mapeo supports participatory data collection and sharing, reinforcing community sovereignty over their land and data. She also describes Mapeo’s transformative role in combating illegal mining, deforestation , and other threats to forests by facilitating evidence gathering, campaign launches, and policy changes. As Mapeo expands into a broader network of communities, tools, and data, Jen shares the vision for it to become self-sustaining and co-developed through peer learning. Towards the end of the episode, Jen explains how the organisation’s name change to Awana Digital (Awana means ‘to weave’ in Quechua) reflects its role of co-designing tools with frontline communities to protect human and environmental rights.

Interviewer: Jennifer Gabrys

Producer: Harry Murdoch

Listen on Apple and Spotify.


This radio episode was produced by the Smart Forests project funded by the European Research Council. Smart Forests is led by Professor Jennifer Gabrys and is based in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge.

Header image: Mapeo used to document illegal activities in Northern Ecuador, supported by Alianza Ceibo and Amazon Frontlines, retrieved 13 June 2024, from https://docs.mapeo.app/

Smart Forests Atlas materials are free to use for non-commercial purposes (with attribution) under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license. To cite this radio episode: Castro, Jen and Jennifer Gabrys "Awana Digital: Awana Digital: Weaving Community, Technology and Environment", Smart Forests Atlas (2024), https://atlas.smartforests.net/en/radio/awana-digital. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.12634981.

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