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Tag: biodiversity

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!

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


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