Geographic Information Systems Curriculum

A geographic information system (GIS) is a very important mapping, data management, and analysis tool. A GIS is particularly important in conservation, as it helps us to answer the important questions and meet the many challenges facing our planet and world. The Nature Conservancy and our partners are aware of the importance of using GIS in conservation projects, and therefore have created this curriculum to spread GIS knowledge worldwide.

Below are several ways to obtain GIS knowledge. Review the options and choose the one that works best for you. If you have questions regarding where to begin, please contact

Click Enter to start a course.

Fundamentals of GIS for Conservation

The Fundamentals of GIS for Conservation is comprised of six self-paced courses focusing on the fundamentals of GIS for conservation. Each course has several learning components, ranging from podcasts to web-based trainings, to help students gain knowledge on a specific topic. At the end of each course please take the course survey, and with a successful completion you will receive a course certificate. Note: Courses will highlight both ArcGIS 10.1 and ArcGIS 9.3.

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Getting to Know GIS

Course 1

This course focuses on the five GIS functions, a working definition of GIS, and the key differences between paper and digital maps.

3 hours

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Understanding Attributes

Course 2

This course focuses on the relationship between features on a map and their associated information.

2 hours

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Understanding Coordinate Systems

Course 3

This course focuses on how you define the locations of geographic data, as this is one of the most important aspects of GIS.

2 hours

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Understanding Spatial Data

Course 4

This course focuses on the different types of spatial data – vector and raster – and explores how you use them to represent geographic reality.

2 hours

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Understanding GIS Databases

Course 5

This course focuses on the concept of GIS databases, managing your spatial data, and how to find conservation GIS data.

2 hours

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Sharing Conservation Knowledge

Course 6

This course focuses on how you ask questions of your spatial data and how to present your results.

3 hours

Access to Esri Virtual Campus training for TNC Staff and signed Affiliates

Access to this training is for all TNC staff and staff of any Affiliate who has signed the recent TNC-Esri license agreement. As of March 27, 2012, Affiliates who have signed include:

  • African Parks Network
  • African Wildlife Foundation
  • Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission
  • Center for Natural Lands Management
  • Department of Physical Planning and Environment
  • Frankfurt Zoological Society
  • Fundacion MarViva
  • Green Belt Movement
  • Island Conservation Society
  • Jane Goodall Institute
  • Nature Conservancy of Canada
  • Northern Rangelands Trust
  • Partners with Melanesians
  • Playa Lakes Joint Venture (PLJV)
  • PRONATURA – Caribbean
  • Resources for the Future
  • Restore America's Estuaries (RAE)
  • RAE: American Littoral Society
  • RAE: Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana
  • RAE: Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Inc.
  • RAE: Conservation Law Foundation
  • RAE: Galveston Bay Foundation
  • RAE: North Carolina Coastal Federation
  • RAE: People for Puget Sound
  • RAE: Save the Bay – San Francisco Bay
  • RAE: Save the Bay – Narragansett Bay
  • RAE: Save the Sound/CFE
  • RAE: Tampa Bay Watch
  • Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory
  • Rocky Mountain Front Weed Roundtable
  • Savannas Forever
  • Snow Leopard Trust
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Wildlife Conservation Society
  • World Wildlife Fund – Brazil, Canada, China, DRC, Germany, Greater Mekong, Greece, India, Indonesia, International, Mexico, Namibia, Netherlands, Russia, South Africa, UK, and US

If your organization is on this list please contact your GIS Coordinator for the access key.

Last modified: Friday, 24 October 2014, 2:58 PM