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ASI and partners will be conducting field tests to develop a GIS workflow that is aimed at making audits more effective and efficient. The field tests will be informed by a survey on usage of GIS tools in auditing with ASI assessors, CAB auditors and other related stakeholders. Preliminary results show that GIS knowledge is lacking, but would be greatly beneficial to auditing activities.

ASI invites interested auditors to get involved:


The Survey

The survey is part of an ISEAL-funded project called “Appraise and apply GIS tools in audits”, which ASI is undertaking jointly with ASC, FSC and RSPO. The project aims to assess and test Geographic Information System (GIS) processes and tools to understand to what extent they contribute to more effective and efficient audit preparation, execution and follow-up.

The survey explores previous general knowledge of GIS as well as the potential and current application of GIS in audits. Interested auditors are invited to participate in the survey.


Preliminary results

Information has been collected from around 80 respondents auditing for more than seven schemes (60% FSC, 17% RSPO, 10% ASI and others). Most participants report use of basic GIS tools like Google maps, GPS on a smartphone and Google earth, however, few have knowledge about using tools like global forest watch, MapInfo or QGIS.

Responses to the question “On a scale from 0 to 4, are you familiar with using:”

To prepare for audits, virtually all respondents check the location of the auditee on Google Maps and some analyze the surroundings. Very few respondents overlay the auditee’s concession area (in shapefile format) for a comprehensive review or use GIS to check for potential HCVs or conduct deforestation analyses. Many of the free online teaching assets are not used or known, but more than half of the respondents think that improved GIS skills would help them in auditing.

Responses to the question, “How much do you think geographic information systems could help you in audits if your skills improve?”

Respondents see big potential in further use of GIS tools to help e.g. verify audit evidence and non-conformities, identify land use changes, HCVs, etc. Many aim to use GIS tools more extensively in the future, for example, to “…obtain information about remote places of harvesting (by space images) that can’t be visited during audits.“ But the time needed to learn and explore the tools is a big concern. One respondent explained, “I am very interested in using GIS for auditing, but in the absence of time for studying and appropriate educational support the practical development of GIS is still only a plan.“


Next steps

The input of this survey is being used to build a pool of interested auditors and other GIS users and set a baseline on the potential, knowledge and current use of GIS systems.

The survey also informs a series of field tests that ASI and partner projects will conduct in different countries. The results, experiences and lessons learned will feed the manual and e-learning assets that will be developed at the end of the project.

Auditors and certificate holders for ASC, FSC and RSPO who would like to participate in the two- to four-day field tests should contact Marnie Bammert. Join the LinkedIn group GIS tools in auditing to keep up to date on the project as it develops.