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Conservation

Sustainable World Conference in Geneva: Collaborating for a better world

The GIS for a Sustainable World conference in Geneva, Switzerland is an opportunity to develop long-term and collaborative relationships with global organizations interested in corporate sustainability and the sustainable development goals (SDGs). As a proud a sponsor of this Esri and UNOSAT event, we had the chance to share some of our GIS work that is making an impact on global sustainability efforts. This year’s conference theme focused on applying GIS to people, planet, prosperity, and peace, and how intelligent maps and apps can accelerate efforts to implement the SDGs.

GIS for a Sustainable World

Sustainable Business Panel Session

The Sustainable Business panel session provided an opportunity for participants to hear from experts in specific thematic areas and discuss issues pertaining to their use of GIS. During this session, Michael Lippmann presented our work with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) funded India Water Tool. This tool helps users understand their water risks and plan interventions for water management in India. Other presenters in the panel included Tijs Lips from Bunge, Adam Romo from ISEAL Alliance, and Michael Marus from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Interactive Breakout Sessions

In addition to hearing about sustainability challenges and successes from the many global organizations in attendance, Blue Raster Program Manager Phil Satlof had the opportunity to participate in a World Health Organization (WHO) sponsored Map-a-Thon. The “Map-A-Thon for Good” event gave participants a chance to learn important workflows for data validation, all while creating an open data set to share with the humanitarian community and beyond.Activity at the GIS for a Sustainable World ConferenceWe also participated in the interactive field GIS mobile data collection exercise. In this session, attendees got hands-on experience using the latest in Esri field mobility software. The Exploration Team collected data from around the conference venue, then viewed it on the Operations Dashboard.

Additionally, the Blue Raster team visited with clients at the World Health Organization (WHO) and enjoyed the sites around Geneva. Before heading home, the team visited Chamonix and Mont Blanc, the highest summit in the Alps. GIS for a Sustainable World

Blue Raster sightseeing in Geneva

To read more about the conference, visit the information page.

 

Saving Wilderness Areas with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)

African elephants

At the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), staff are using the Global Forest Watch MapBuilder platform to show their global impact. WCS works to conserve the world’s largest wild places in 16 priority regions. Their new MapBuilder platform is a powerful mapping tool for analyzing data in priority conservation areas.

WCS’ platform combines the use of remote sensing and GIS to visualize and monitor top priority regions for conservation. Through a combination of interactive mapping, data visualizations, and analytical reports, the platform provides staff with access to information on the current state of WCS protected areas around the world.

WCS' goal is to conserve the world's largest wild places in 16 priority regions, home to more than 50% of the world's biodiversity.

The platform incorporates a breadth of data on priority landscapes and sea- and coastal- scapes (known as “scapes”). In addition, it visualizes key project areas where WCS is working to have a conservation impact on species. By centralizing this data all on one platform, users can visualize overlap and patterns. For example, staff can overlay forest fragmentation, infrastructure development, and conservation areas to quickly see if wildlife movement is blocked between and within protected areas. This is especially important in Africa, where species like elephants, giraffes, and zebras travel long distances between wet and dry seasons to survive.

WCS Mapbuilder Platform

In addition to the data on the platform, the site also contains powerful analytics powered by MapBuilder’s custom functionality. Through a unique workflow built by our two teams, WCS can connect their API with the Global Forest Watch API to return time-series statistics within the application. This enables users to run specialized analyses to answer questions such as:

  • Which protected areas have experienced the greatest forest disturbance in recent years?
  • How have species population trends changed over time?
  • Where are the last unbroken swaths of intact forest?
Visualizing Results

WCS can also visualize their impact. For example, thanks to conservation efforts, Nouabalé Ndoki National Park is free from logging and contains no roads within its borders. The park covers more than 4,000 square kilometers of contiguous rainforest and is a stronghold for iconic species including forest elephants, western lowland gorillas, and chimpanzees.

 

 

WCS’ platform is built with the ArcGIS API for JavaScript, ArcGIS Enterprise, the Global Forest Watch API, and Google Earth Engine.

Check out the WCS MapBuilder platform today!

India Water Tool Helps Turn Water Risks to Water Solutions

Blue Raster is pleased to have partnered again with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) on the third version of the India Water Tool. As much of India faces high to extremely high water stress, it is one of the most water-stressed countries in the world.

The India Water Tool helps users understand their water risks and plan interventions for water management in India. With over 20 datasets and risk indicators from the Government of India and other institutions, the tool helps companies understand water risks for their operations and supply chains. For investors, the tool can help with site selection and investment for new locations. Additionally, users have the ability to input or upload facility-level information and view:

          • Maps of water availability, quality and stress
          • Charts and graphs of current and historic water availability and quality
          • Summary reports of water data for their locations
India Water Tool

India Water Tool

India Water Tool

India Water Tool

 

Design

The Blue Raster design team completely updated the visual identity of the tool, including the color schemes, fonts and icons. Blue Raster’s developers then implemented the design in collaboration with other WBCSD partners. Check out and explore the India Water Tool 3.0 today.

“The tool is an important step towards water management in India. The nationwide analysis it provides allows for a good understanding of local water situations and helps build comprehensive corporate water management strategies and stewardship approaches.

The country needs action at the scale of a movement to help it manage the water stress situation. Bringing granular data on an open access and easy to use platform is an important step in driving such coordinated action. Blue Raster has done a commendable job in making this national tool a great looking and easy to use platform”.

– Deepa Maggo, Manager – Water at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development

Habitat and biodiversity in the ‘Urban Century’

This month, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) released “Nature in the Urban Century”, a report on the rising threat that urban growth and the proximity of people to wildlife will have on habitat loss. Dubbed the “urban century,” the report details the challenges of managing urban growth. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be 2.4 billion more people in cities than today. That is an urban growth rate “equivalent to building a city with the population of London every seven weeks”!

Urbanization is a leading factor in habitat loss, but better planning and focus on sustainable development can allow for more integration of habitats into cities.

With urban growth and the expansion of cities, protected lands are becoming increasingly close to human development. The study estimates that by 2030, forty percent of protected areas will be within 50 kilometers of a city. These protected areas provide critical carbon storage that can help mitigate climate change.

Blue Raster developed two mapping application for the report. The first shows the impact of urban growth on habitat, protected areas and carbon at the country level. The tabs along the map and the country popups show users how many square kilometers of habitat is lost to urban growth, the current percent and 2030 projected percent increase of protected areas that are adjacent to urban areas, and the carbon loss from expanding cities.

Habitat Story Map

Habitat Story Map

The second map looks at the relationship of urban growth trends and specific protected areas of urban-threatened species. The density of urban-caused habitat loss projected out to 2030 is viewed with existing urban areas, and highlights places where managing protected areas and urban biodiversity near cities is most important.

Habitat Story Map

The Nature in the Urban Century report states that while there’s still time to protect critical habitat even as cities grow, it will take concerted planning. Left unchecked, over the next two decades urban growth will threaten more than 290,000 km2 of habitat, an area larger than New Zealand. It’s up to local cities, national governments and international institutions to work together to look at the benefits generated by biodiversity and set specific goals for urban conservation efforts.

Click here to view the full report

Towards Zero Deforestation with GFW Pro

Hundreds of companies around the world have signed on to the United Nations (UC) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15: Life on Land and pledged to work towards zero deforestation by 2020. However, meeting these commitments requires the ability monitor deforestation throughout their supply chains. Global Forest Watch Pro provides each organization a unique, secure environment to monitor and analyze these supply chains, and also helps these organizations demonstrate compliance with commitments and policies.

The application builds on the success of past GFW initiatives and leverages the comprehensive list of authoritative datasets curated by the World Resources institute. Data are served to the application from a variety of locations, such as ArcGIS Server, Amazon S3, and Carto DB. Users can upload lists of over 1,000 custom Areas of Interest (AOIs), which are quickly analyzed for deforestation on sensitive areas and by regional landcover types.  The application’s two diagnostics provide detailed historic deforestation measurements as well as industry specific risk scores. In addition, an alert dashboard provides real time monitoring capabilities and displays the latest GLAD Deforestation and VIIRS Fire alerts.

Supply Chain Analysis for Deforestation

 

GFW Pro leverages AWS Lambda to provide the intensive computational resources needed to quickly analyze these large custom lists while keeping costs as low as possible. Using the latest serverless technology, the application is quickly able to spin up as much compute power as needed to analyze each list, and then shut them down just as quickly. This allows the application to scale horizontally and processes thousands of user uploaded locations a day.

We are excited to see the impact GFW Pro will have on monitoring environmental impacts and global supply chains.


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