RALUCIAPA (Rapid assessment of land use change in and around protected areas)

Click for RALUCIAPA in Google Maps Google Earth , the Google Earth Plugin and Microsoft Virtual Earth

If your version of Google Earth shows errors when downloading  zipped data files from these sites, please right mouse button click the links to the data and choose save link from the context menu that appears.  This will then open the link in your web browser.

RALUCIAPA is a land use change alert system for the world’s protected areas based on the MODIS Vegetation Continuous Fields tree cover product (Collection 4, release 3) and the UNEP-WCMC, IUCN, WCPA World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA 2007, web download). RALUCIAPA is a collaborative project between UNEP-WCMC and King's College London.                                               

The VCF data for 2000 to 2005 were mosaiced and processed to calculate the following globally:
  • Global change in tree cover percentage from 2000-2005, and
  • Change in tree cover percentage from 2000-2005 in and around areas defined as protected according to the 2007 World Database of Protected Areas (WDPA)

RALUCIAPA is designed to allow rapid regional and local visualization of protected areas and areas of forest cover loss and gain over recent years. RALUCIAPA provides an easy mechanism for hot-spotting land use change in and around protected areas and it envisaged as a functional hotspotting tool for those who do not have ready access to remote-sensing data. It is important to note that the VCF data are at 500m resolution and so do not pick up small scale change in forest cover and sometimes do not work well oustide of tropical forests. 

                                            RALUCIAPA : Microsoft Virtual Earth version

Change is colour coded so that losses in tree cover fill the range light orange to dark red from 0 to -100% and gains in tree cover span the range light green to dark green over the range 0 to +100%. A legend is provided in the Google Earth version. The raw tree cover % layers for each year are also provided in the Google Earth version. The resolution of the layer increases on zooming in. Areas with no tree cover or no tree cover change are transparent so that the user sees the Google or Microsoft imagery underneath.

Areas of apparent forest loss around rivers that flood, or in areas that are frequently cloud covered, may be erroneous. For this reason, MODIS imagery (also provided in the Google Earth versions of this tool) should be used to confirm the land use change observed. The native Google or Microsoft imagery may also help identify deforestation to the year 2000.

There are currently four implementations of the RALUCIAPA technology. The Google maps and MS Virtual Earth versions require no software download and are easy to use (the MS Virtual Earth version also providing the names of protected areas). The Google Earth version requires the download of Google Earth from earth.google.com and provides a more immersive environment, geosearch functionality, ancilliary data on places and world heritage sites as well as detailed information from the WDPA 2007 on the protected areas. There is also a version for the new Google Earth browser plugin. Further instructions on use are provided within the Google Earth version.

                                            RALUCIAPA : Google maps version

The next steps for RALUCIAPA are

a) to improve the resolution of the data used especially in hotspots areas,
b) to develop and provide simple on-line tools for the measurement of land use change, and
c) to make available an online repository for measurements made by interested and informed members of the public.

This will rely on a significantly expanded partnership and we hope it will serve as a contribution to the work programme of GEO-BON (the GEO Biodiversity Observation Network).

The data source is :
Hansen, M., R. DeFries, J.R. Townshend, M. Carroll, C. Dimiceli, and R. Sohlberg (2006), Vegetation Continuous Fields MOD44B, 2001 Percent Tree Cover, Collection 4, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, 2006. Further details on the source data can be found in : Hansen, M., R.S. DeFries, J.R.G. Townshend, M. Carroll, C. Dimiceli, and R.A. Sohlberg (2003), "Global Percent Tree Cover at a Spatial Resolution of 500 Meters: First Results of the MODIS Vegetation Continuous Fields Algorithm", Earth Interactions, Vol 7, No 10, pp 1-15.
Source for this data set was the Global Land Cover Facility, www.landcover.org.
Intellectual Property Rights for the raw MODIS VCF fields lie with the University of Maryland, Department of Geography and NASA; use is free to all if acknowledgement is made. UMD and NASA hold ultimate copyright. The RALUCIAPA fields and associated imagery is produced by King's College London. Google are gratefully acknowledged for their provision of Google Earth and specification of KML 2.x.
Mulligan, M. (2008) RALUCIAPA : Rapid assessment of land use change in and around protected areas (2000-2005). Version 1.0. http://www.unep-wcmc.org/.