Open-source mapping and services for Web-based land-cover validation

Lucy Bastin, Graeme Buchanan, Alison Beresford, Jean-Francois Pekel, Gregoire Dubois

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Monitoring land-cover changes on sites of conservation importance allows environmental problems to be detected, solutions to be developed and the effectiveness of actions to be assessed. However, the remoteness of many sites or a lack of resources means these data are frequently not available. Remote sensing may provide a solution, but large-scale mapping and change detection may not be appropriate, necessitating site-level assessments. These need to be easy to undertake, rapid and cheap. We present an example of a Web-based solution based on free and open-source software and standards (including PostGIS, OpenLayers, Web Map Services, Web Feature Services and GeoServer) to support assessments of land-cover change (and validation of global land-cover maps). Authorised users are provided with means to assess land-cover visually and may optionally provide uncertainty information at various levels: from a general rating of their confidence in an assessment to a quantification of the proportions of land-cover types within a reference area. Versions of this tool have been developed for the TREES-3 initiative (Simonetti, Beuchle and Eva, 2011). This monitors tropical land-cover change through ground-truthing at latitude / longitude degree confluence points, and for monitoring of change within and around Important Bird Areas (IBAs) by Birdlife International and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). In this paper we present results from the second of these applications. We also present further details on the potential use of the land-cover change assessment tool on sites of recognised conservation importance, in combination with NDVI and other time series data from the eStation (a system for receiving, processing and disseminating environmental data). We show how the tool can be used to increase the usability of earth observation data by local stakeholders and experts, and assist in evaluating the impact of protection regimes on land-cover change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-16
Number of pages8
JournalEcological Informatics
Early online date16 Dec 2012
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Ecological informatics. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Bastin, L, Buchanan, G, Beresford, A, Pekel, J-F & Dubois, G, 'Open-source mapping and services for Web-based land-cover validation' Ecological informatics, vol. 14 (2013) DOI


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