Esri UC: Audubon Society Honored for Application of GIS in Conservation

July 20, 2015  - By
Image: GPS World

The National Audubon Society, the century-old conservation group devoted to protecting bird populations and habitats throughout the Americas, accepted the Esri President’s Award for revolutionizing its data collection and management approach with GIS technology. Esri presented the award Monday, July 20, at the 2015 Esri User Conference in San Diego, Calif.

Esri equipped Audubon with $11.2 million worth of GIS software, which has helped, among other initiatives, to preserve one of the world’s most important bird breeding grounds — 11 million acres in Alaska that attract birds from all seven continents.

“Esri’s technology improves our conservation results and provides a common enterprise solution that helps glue together our distributed network of state offices, local chapters and international partners,” said Audubon president and CEO David Yarnold. “Esri is a very special company in the technology world, and it has built a truly unique global community of users. We’re humbled and honored to receive Esri’s highest honor.”

In 2010, Audubon overhauled its organizational alignment based on four North American flyways, the north-south paths traveled by migratory birds each spring and fall. Under this new approach, the society adopted an enterprise GIS using Esri’s ArcGIS platform to build a comprehensive new picture of large-scale conservation projects.

The organization’s transformation shifted Audubon to an intelligence-centric culture with more than 1,000 network members using the ArcGIS platform on a widespread basis to gain ownership of authoritative data. Adopting an enterprise GIS strategy made it easier for the Audubon network to access and use spatial data about species populations, habitat locations, migration patterns, and more.

“At Esri, we are extremely passionate about making a difference in the world with geography and helping our customers and partners do amazing things, such as the National Audubon Society,” said Esri president Jack Dangermond. “It has been a fantastic experience supporting Audubon to help people visualize and understand why we need to preserve Earth’s species and ecosystems.”

Recent projects reflect the opportunity for the nonprofit to tell compelling stories grounded in geography. One example is Audubon’s application of GIS to tell the story of how climate change poses an incredible challenge to the preservation of bird species. Utilizing the ArcGIS platform, the organization created maps that show how up to half of bird species in North America will be disrupted over the next century due to climate change.

The National Audubon Society’s network includes 22 state offices, 41 nature centers, 23 sanctuaries, and 464 local chapters throughout the United States and numerous partners throughout the Western Hemisphere. The organization awarded Esri’s founders, Jack and Laura Dangermond, with the 2015 Audubon Medal for their accomplishments in technology and conservation innovation, as well as their support for research institutes, schools, and nonprofits.

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About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.