RALUCIAPA : Rapid Assessment of Land Use Change in and Around Protected Areas

Produced by UNEP-WCMC Senior Fellow, Mark Mulligan, from King's College London, the 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). The VCF data for 2000 to 2005 were mosaiced and processed to calculate the following globally:

RALUCIAPA is designed to allow rapid regional and local visualization of 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. It is important to note that the data are at 500m resolution and so do not pick up small scale change in forest cover.

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 version 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 three 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.  Further instructions on use are provided within the Google Earth version.

The next steps for RALUCIAPA are

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

Other related deforestation products for Google Earth are available at www.kcl.ac.uk/geodata.

Three versions are available:

Google Maps: No need to install anything. 2D maps only. Better for older computers. Limited number of layers. 

Google Earth/Earth Plugin: A sharper, more interactive experience.  Has more layers and provides 3D as well as 2D visualisation. Can be run within the browser using a downloadable plugin or externally by downloading the Google Earth Desktop software (download & install version v4.3 or higher)

Microsoft Virtual Earth: No need to install anything. 2D maps only. Better for older computers. Limited number of layers.  An alternative to Google Maps.


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/.

Protected areas extracted from the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) in 2007 supplied by UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC).The WDPA is a joint product of UNEP and the IUCN, prepared by UNEP-WCMC and the IUCN WCPA working with Governments, the Secretariats of Multilateral Environmental Agreements and collaborating NGOs. For further information email: protectedareas@unep-wcmc.org.