This post originally appeared on the website of the Partnership for the Conservation of Amazon Biodiversity (PCAB), a program of USAID and the Government of Brazil.

TerraBio is a pioneering conceptual and methodological framework for monitoring and evaluating the impacts of land-based business activities on ecosystems and biodiversity. The framework provides environmental accountability to private sector corporations that rely on the supply of agricultural or extractive products from the Amazon-basin, and/or invest in sustainable business models as profitable and conservation-driven development initiatives.

The framework combines state of the art remote sensing approaches with innovative biodiversity monitoring technologies. In order to improve and  test the accuracy of TerraBio’s mapping capabilities a series of mapathon events were organized between  August 27- September 20, 2021.

Using Collect Earth Online as a working platform for model calibration and validation. Through the advancement of a customized interpretation key, the mapathon team developed a common understanding for the classification of land cover and land use.

The mapathon was performed by a team of 7 interpreters: Jhon Tello, Silvia Castaño, and Ovidio Rivera from SERVIR Amazonia (supported by USAID’s Regional Program in South America), Beatriz Rodriguez from the Alliance of Bioversity/CIAT, Nathanael Campos from Imaflora, and Andrea Nicolau and Iara Jaques from Spatial Information Group (SIG). The mapathon consisted of a short training session, two validation rounds, and more than 1300 ground points/plots analyzed.

During the first round, the points were visually inspected and classified based on the vegetation detected in high resolution imagery of the Xingu River Basin in the state of Pará. During the second round, time series charts and images from the imagery archives were assessed over time to determine the state of vegetative succession (i.e. degraded, regenerated, intact) across the time interval of interest.

The mapathon made use of various vegetation indexes to aid in the interpretation process. Images from various satellite sources at different years were also reviewed for each individual ground point.

The successful completion of TerraBio’s algorithm customization and mapathon events, have enabled the framework to accurately map distinct land use/land cover systems, as well as tree cover conditions difficult to identify, in the Xingu Basin.

Photo by Bruno Kelly