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World Resources Institute

GFW Map Builder

Environmental restoration is becoming a top priority for many countries around the world, but it can be difficult to synthesize the numerous sources of information available to make decisions about where this restoration should happen. With the new GFW Map Builder template, anyone can create an online map application visualizing and analyzing their data alongside local, regional, or global land use data to identify future restoration priorities.

Blue Raster created Map Builder, a configurable ArcGIS Online template, for the World Resource Institute’s Global Forest Watch (GFW) program. The template allows users to overlay their own datasets, such as endangered species habitats, commercial concessions, or national protected areas, with GFW land cover and land cover change data in order to pinpoint the best locations to focus restoration efforts. The template provides built-in metadata and analysis tabs, which viewers can use to learn more about specific features in the map and generate reports with a variety of analyses on any feature.

Many users are already taking advantage of Map Builder’s impressive capabilities to create their own customized map applications. For example, Kenya’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources recently completed a national restoration opportunity assessment informed by their Tree-based Landscape Restoration Potential Atlas created using the Map Builder template. The atlas overlays rivers, land use, and population density with areas marked as having potential for restoration. Check out blog posts by Thomas Maschler and Asa Strong from World Resources Institute about customizing GFW and open data and GIS for more information and examples.

Built with ArcGIS API for JavaScript, Map Builder leverages ArcGIS Online templates as well as the ArcGIS for Server Image Extension for analysis. It features lightweight code with a fully mobile and responsive design, making it accessible even in countries with low bandwidth.

Mapbuilder allows users to combine GFW’s geospatial analysis features with data that is important to their local cause and environment. With this highly-customizable tool users can now build web applications to monitor forests in their own backyard. Park rangers can track where forests were cut down as recently as a week ago, auditors can calculate countries’ carbon emissions from forest conversion and companies can find and address points in their supply chains that contribute to deforestation. WRI uses Mapbuilder as a platform for Forest and Restoration Atlases. These applications are published and updated together with partnering national government agencies. The tight integration with ArcGIS online allows our country teams to manage their sites independently and reduces the amount of necessary training and follow up support.

-Thomas Maschler, GIS Manager for GFW Africa, World Resources Institute


Staying Ahead of the Global Water Supply Shortage

Global water supply is rapidly becoming a topic that crosses international borders and stretches across watersheds, communities, and livelihoods. Well known organizations such as the United Nations, the World Wildlife Foundation and The Water Project all recognize the threat of water shortage on generations to come and that these threats will have effects far beyond environmental. These organizations estimate that:

With a clear motive and call for action, World Resources Institute and Blue Raster teamed up to create Global Forest Watch Water, allowing users to quickly identify risks to clean water in areas of deforestation, forest fires and soil erosion and to identify cost-effective natural infrastructure solutions. This public facing tool provides the means for governments, businesses, financing, institutions, and communities to create a plan for action that is educated, sustainable, and effective.


“Global Forest Watch (GFW) Water is a global mapping tool and database that examines how forest loss, fires, unsustainable land use and other threats to natural infrastructure affect water security. Users can drop a pin anywhere on the map to see the risks to nearby water supplies and find resources on how investing in natural infrastructure protection can help alleviate these threats. GFW Water looks to help downstream utilities, businesses, financing and development institutions, researchers and civil society groups quickly identify risks to ample, clean water by providing the data they need for all 230 global watersheds in an easy-to-use, accessible format.”
– Jasmine Qin, Research Analyst, World Resources Institute

The World Resources Institute is partnering with civil-society organizations to support on-the-ground results, using GFW Water information to help them secure clean water supplies. These partners include:

GFW Water leverages the Esri ArcGIS API for JavaScript and ArcGIS Image Extension for Server for its advanced mapping capabilities and the ability to produce on-the-fly analysis for selected water features. The full reports include risk scores for forest loss, erosion, fires, and baseline water stress, as well as number of water intake locations, the presence of dams, and more. The application incorporates the Esri Hydrology Service, which allows for upstream analysis as a user specifies a point placed on a map. ReactJS and Highcharts are used for enhanced user interface features including the incorporation of animated charts and graphs.


Pinpoint Deforestation with PALM Risk Tool

Global Forest Watch – Commodities is proud to announce the integration of the PALM Risk Tool (Prioritizing Areas, Landscapes and Mills), a groundbreaking tool aiming to eliminate deforestation surrounding palm oil production across Indonesia, Malaysia and elsewhere. With a global data set of nearly 800 palm oil mills, corporations have for the first time the resources needed to commit to deforestation-free palm oil sourcing.

Intan-Sejati-Andalan-report 3To make this tool successful in real-time, the application utilizes satellite-based data alongside regularly updated mill data. Users can select one or multiple mill sites, and analyze data surrounding this location for fire activity, tree cover loss, and high-carbon peatlands. Based on this analysis, rankings are calculated to create a more focused and efficient approach to sustainable palm oil production.

The maps utilize ArcGIS for Server while the code base integrates ArcGIS JavaScript API, Highcharts, and React JS, all working together to power an application that is accessible and reliable. In order to support the advanced analysis done on-the-fly, the application uses the ArcGIS Image Server extension and compute-histograms tools.

sarahlakeCompanies have made ambitious commitments to remove deforestation from their supply chains, yet significant challenges exist to turning these commitments into action. The PALM risk tool helps address this challenge. Commodity traders and buyers can use the tool to identify the mill areas of highest priority in their supply chain in order to intervene and in turn, get the biggest bang for their buck. The tool leverages the powerful data of Global Forest Watch together with dynamic analysis in ArcGIS, allowing companies to analyze their own supply chain — as well as the first-ever mill dataset hosted by GFW — to begin moving towards their zero-deforestation goals.

-Sarah Lake, Corporate Engagement Research Analyst, Global Forest Watch

Securing Land Rights for Indigenous Peoples and Communities

LandMark Global Platform of Indigenous and Community Lands

Blue Raster partnered with the World Resources Institute (WRI) and a 13 member Steering Group to create LandMark, the first-ever attempt to build a global repository of community land rights data. Launched on November 10, the LandMark website is the world’s first interactive global platform to map these lands.

According to WRI, up to 65% of land in the world is held by indigenous peoples and local communities, but only 10% is legally recognized as belonging to them. LandMark aims to help these communities publicly document their land boundaries, particularly in countries where there are no systems currently in place to do so.


Blue Raster created the site using WordPress, ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS for Server, and the JavaScript API.

“Blue Raster has been a great asset to the World Resources Institute and our partner institutions in designing and developing the LandMark mapping platform. Especially valuable was their proficiency in creating a flexible product with a big-picture view towards future growth and development, as LandMark is a project that is constantly evolving,” said Katie Reytar, Senior Research Associate at WRI.

The site allows users to explore maps at both the community and national level, with the goal of helping key audiences including:

LandmarkOn-iPhone-v2LandmarkOn-iPhoneCompanies who are interested in identifying areas for potential investments and want to reduce company risk and costs associated with acquiring contested land.

Community members and groups supporting them who are looking for a platform to proactively document their land publicly.

Governments, to better recognize community land rights and encourage fellow public officials to take action based on examples of other nations.

General public, to gain a better awareness of the extent of land rights issues worldwide.

To learn more about the project and see the platform in action, check out WRI’s project page.

Blue Raster Presents Emerging Hotspots of Global Tree Cover Loss

Amazamon Web Services

Blue Raster is excited to attend and present at the 2015 Earth Observation in the Cloud Demo Day on November 10th. Michael Lippmann and Jon Nordling will be presenting on our work with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Earth Observation Data. The talk will highlight how big data analysis provided by AWS is helping pinpoint emerging hotspots of tree cover loss around the world. The project is part of a collaboration between Blue Raster, the World Resources Institute (WRI) Global Forest Watch Team and the Esri Big Data Team. For more information about the event, visit Amazon’s Earth Observation in the Cloud Demo Day site.

Behind-the-scenes look at producing the maps:

Blue Raster at Amazon's Earth Observation in the Cloud Demo Day


See the full presentation here:


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