MapBiomas: New mapping platform will track annual deforestation in Brazil

  • MapBiomas will allow users to analyze changes in different terrestrial biomes, agricultural lands, pastures and coastal zones in Brazil over the last three decades.
  • MapBiomas has currently been released in beta, and the first set of validated and corrected maps, from 2008 to 2015, will be available in first half of 2016, according to the website.
  • The platform is open-access, and will provide data, codes and methodologies to users, allowing researchers from all over the world to use MapBiomas’s maps and other products.

A network of over 20 organizations, in collaboration with Google, has launched a new open-access platform called MapBiomas that will map land use and land cover change in Brazil from 1985 to present. MapBiomas was released on November 26.

Currently, data on land use change in Brazil is produced every five to eight years. However, MapBiomas aims to generate “annual maps of land-use, land-use change and forestry in Brazil in the last 30 years and keep it up to date”. The platform will allow users to analyze changes in different terrestrial biomes, such as the Amazon, Cerrado, Caatinga, Pantanal, Pampa and the Atlantic Forest, as well as in agricultural lands, pastures and coastal zones.

“We will be able to know how much forest area was converted to pasture, how much mangrove was coverted to urban area,” Pedro Walfir,  Coordinator of coastal zone MapBiomas, said in a video statement. “We will know what was, and what will be, converted since 1985 until today.”

MapBiomas has currently been released in beta, and the first set of validated and corrected maps, from 2008 to 2015, will be available in first half of 2016, according to the website. The platform will roll out data and maps for the remaining years in 2016 and 2017.

“The production of annual maps will change the way we see the dynamics of land use in Brazil and this will be possible by applying new technologies and tools available today that did not exist a few years ago, ” Tasso Azevedo, general coordinator for the project, said in a statement.

MapBiomas uses Google Earth engine to process and distribute satellite images quickly. The platform is open-access, and will provide data, codes and methodologies to users, allowing researchers from all over the world to use MapBiomas’s maps and other products.

“We built the Google Earth engine so that anyone with a web browser can perform extremely large analyses of the earth and its environment,” David Thau, a senior developer advocate at Google who works on the Google Earth engine, said in the video statement. “But it takes projects like MapBiomas to take that technology, combine it with the best science to put useful information into the hands of policy and decision makers who can do something beneficial with it. We’re looking forward to working with the MapBiomas team in their efforts to monitor and measure land use and cover change over Brazil.”

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