Terra-i: Eyes on the users

Louis Reymondin

Today, Terra-i has an eye on its users rather than the habitat of Latin America. As the year draws to a close, it’s time to take a look back and characterise the geography of current Terra-i users, their areas of interest and the types of uses to which the tool is being put using statistics from November 2012 to November 2013.

The typical Terra-i user

Terra-i detects land cover changes resulting from human activities in near real time, producing updates every 16 days. It currently runs for the whole of Latin America and is being expanded over the next year to cover the entire tropics. Terra-i is a collaboration between the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT - DAPA, Colombia), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the School of Business and Engineering (HEIG-VD, Switzerland) and King’s College London (KCL, UK). It has grown considerably since its launch in early 2012 , reaching a much wider group of users through a simple web-based interface aimed at supporting decision making and policy formulation.

Figure 1: Number of registered users per country

The system has about 1,000 registered users. In the last year Terra-i has been used by 260 organisations from 45 countries. Users are distributed geographically as shown in Figure 1, with a particularly strong presence in the USA, Latin America and Europe. The number of organisations using the systems is greatest in North America and South America. Relatively few organisations, with low use per organisation, based in Europe and Asia are currently using the system.

Areas of interest

A snapshot of the areas in which the tool had been applied by users is given in Figure 2. Terra-i statistical data have been downloaded about 4,200 times, largely in Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Paraguay in South America and in Mexico and Honduras in Central America.

Figure 2 Number of Terra-i queries per country in (a) South America and (b) Central America.

When analysed at a local scale, one can see that the hotspots of queries in South America, as shown in Figure 3, are located in Madre de Dios and Ucayali in Peru, in Caquetá and Antioquia in Colombia and in Alto Paraguay. Furthermore, one can see that most of the queries are clustered in the non-Brazilian Amazon and the Gran Chaco.

Figure 3: Number of Terra-i queries per locale in South America

In Central America, users were most interested in knowing the trends of habitat loss in Gracias a Dios, Yoro and Lempira in Honduras, Orange Walk in Belize and Durango in Mexico as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Number of Terra-i queries per locale in Central America

Furthermore, the ecosystems that have the most been consulted by users are the Dry Chaco in Paraguay and Argentina, the Cerrado and Bahia coastal forests in Brazil and the Caquetá Moist forests and Llanos in Colombia. The protected areas that summed the most requests are Jamari and Itacaiunas located in Brazil, Yasuní in Ecuador, Defensores del Chaco in Paraguay and El Tuparro in Colombia. Finally, the most-searched indigenous areas in 2013 were Xikrin do Rio Catete, Parakanã and Córrego João Pereira in Brazil together with Agua Negra and Rio Pangui in Colombia.

Example Uses

Several documented examples of the uses that people outside of the Terra-i team have made of the tool include TNC’s assessment of the status of protected areas in Latin America, GreenWood’s demonstration of how a community forest management area is disappearing due to illegal encroachment in Copen, Honduras and Mongabay’s work showing that deforestation surged after Ecuador killed its Amazon protection plan.

Figure 5: Registered visits on www.terra-i.org

Finally, as shown in Figure 5, Terra-i’s website registered about 21,244 visits that were mainly located in Colombia and the US. All of these users are key to making Terra-i an integral tool for better decision making on crucial issues such as deforestation and loss of natural habitats in Latin America and, soon, the rest of the tropics.

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