On Earth Day 2021, we are reminded that accurate and timely climate data are key to effectively inform decision-makers on water and ecosystem management, disaster preparedness, food security, energy provision and management, and land use planning issues. Successful risk management in these sectors requires precise and current climate information. Tailoring climate information appropriately for national and sub-national scales is critical, as well as aligning the timescales of information with the timescales of decision-making. Here are some of the climate sensitive problems that SERVIR-Amazonia addresses by using Earth observation and to improve environmental decision-making:

  • How can we prevent local and regional forest clearing and degradation affecting hydrological ecosystem services with cascading effects on natural resources and the well-being of indigenous communities?
  • How can we provide incentives for local farmers to invest in sustainable crop intensification to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
  • How can we reduce the risk related to increasing drought, fires, and floods that are a threat to our food systems?
  • How can private sector investments and collective action support sustainable development, and generate economic opportunities meant to strengthen the sustainable production and commercialization of local products?

The geospatial service co-development process at SERVIR-Amazonia

SERVIR uses a service approach to bring diverse stakeholders together to identify local development problems and co-design solutions that use satellite data, Earth science, and geospatial technologies. The resulting solutions are tailored, need-based decision-support products (tools, data sets, training resources and capacity building activities). SERVIR calls these solutions “services” because they are more than stand-alone geospatial products expected to be sustainable. Through the co-development process, these solutions  evolve as long-term services built together with the local  implementing partners to improve environmental decision-making. 


Geospatial services that address climate change adaptation

Fire detection from MODIS in 2019. Credit: NASA Earth Observation

In a global climate that is already changing, SERVIR-Amazonia partnerships prioritize community resilience to environmental hazards and increased security in water and food systems. Services like drought forecasting, and flood early warning systems help communities to be prepared for the effects of a changing climate and facilitate disaster management processes.

Get to know our geospatial services that contribute to climate change adaptation:

Improving Resilience and Reducing Risk of Extreme Hydrological Events

This service provides stakeholders in the Amazon Basin region with improved flood forecasting ability, including more accurate information about timing, magnitude and impact, to increase their understanding of risks and support greater resiliency to flood disasters. The service will allow stakeholders to investigate forecast-based financing methods, which will increase their ability to prepare and respond to flood disasters. Furthermore, the hydroinformatics tools can train stakeholders to understand past river flooding patterns and how the hydrological basin is integrated beyond political borders. This service will introduce these innovative tools and forecasting methodologies to academic, technical, and governmental users in the region. Read more

Forecasting Seasonal to Sub-Seasonal Fire and Agricultural Risk from Drought

This service provides information for reducing the negative impacts of drought and fire on forest and agriculture in the Amazon basin, evaluating drought conditions at temporal and spatial resolution to predict fire vulnerability. The service detects small and understory fires using several satellite platforms, including VIIRS and MODIS, with a focus on providing information products for improved management. These products, such as wildfire patterns and association with land use change events, fill a current gap by detecting fires that current global algorithms often miss. The service will help stakeholders characterize fires and quantify their negative impacts on ecosystem services as well as use fire forecasting models to develop dry season metrics and predict how these metrics change over time. Read more

Geospatial service that address climate change mitigation

Illegal Gold Mining in Peru. Credit: Conservación Amazónica (ACCA)

Many SERVIR-Amazonia services target root causes of climate change to help slow dangerous climate trends and minimize harm to human and ecological systems. These services help countries meet United Nations emissions reporting requirements and protect critical carbon sinks. They promote sustainable land use and the conservation of biodiversity. 

Get to know our geospatial services that contribute to climate change mitigation:

TerraOnTrack (Increase the Protection of Forests managed by community-based initiatives in the Brazilian Amazon):

The service is a web application that will contribute to community-based initiatives by introducing resources that will allow traditional communities and indigenous people to quickly identify potential threats to their territories and monitor illegal activities on the ground, which in turn will increase forest protection and territorial management capacity. The service initially focuses on the north region in the Para State where there are several protected areas, indigenous people, and territorial projects running. It will be applied in territories managed by traditional communities and indigenous people after carrying a consultation process with them. The service is divided into three main components: (i) mapping the territory of communities that accepted to use the tool; (ii) mapping and monitoring deforestation and forest degradation within and without these areas of using advanced satellite and radar datasets (e.g. SAR, Planet); and (iii) developing a web-based platform with near-real-time deforestation and degradation alerts to help communities monitor the land-use change in their territories. Watch the service demo video.

Deforestation Monitoring and Reporting in Ecuador

This service will impact the global effort to reduce emissions by improving the Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system, which allows countries to measure their progress against baseline emissions levels reported to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), climate change mitigation funds, among others. Ecuador´s greenhouse gas inventory will have greater precision and accuracy in its emissions estimates and its documentation of conservation practices, which will move the country closer to receiving payments for results. This would in turn provide a sustainable source of payments as part of the existing Socio-Bosque program. The MRV system will allow Ecuadorian landowners (including indigenous communities) to procure commitments from funding sources as payments for results. This could lead to a significant reduction of land-based GHG emissions and the impacts of climate change for Ecuador. Read more

Quantifying the Effects of Forest Changes on Provisioning and Regulating Ecosystem Services

The service allows regional and local planners and decision-makers, as well as citizens of Acre and Ucayali (including the Indigenous and traditional communities of the Sierra del Divisor, Yurua, and Purus watersheds) to better understand the tradeoffs between development activities and ecosystem services. Changes in forest cover can be mapped and attributed to localized changes in evapotranspiration (ET), soil moisture, humidity, and surface temperature. Through this service, the effect-radius of these changes in forest cover will be determined to generate maps that highlight areas undergoing changes in microclimatology and land-use. These maps will provide a baseline for future climate modelling analyses on the relationship between forest disturbance and regional climate change. The service will also launch a statistics-based tool that will allow users to analyze the tradeoffs between development activities and ecosystem services through scenario modelling. Read more

Monitoring and Evaluation of Mangroves in Guyana

This service brings Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and other remote sensing resources to map the extent and structure of mangrove forests along the coast of Guyana. The service consists of a platform for automating the analysis of radar and optical imagery going back several years and setting a year-2020 baseline for future analysis. This service makes mangrove-related land-use change transparent and the resulting analysis publicly available for use by government and civil society to: 1) act on hotspots of deforestation and stop them on time; 2) engage in land-use planning, policy-making and actions that protect mangroves from being converted to other land uses; and 3) plan mangrove protection efforts for farmers in low-lying coastal regions. The service serves larger efforts of forest and biodiversity conservation in Guyana. Read more

SERVIR-Amazonia trainees in a mangrove in Guyana

Monitoring of Gold Mining in the Peruvian Amazon

The service aims to produce near real-time information on deforestation and activity due to mining in the southern Peruvian Amazon. It has two major objectives. First, to quickly identify possible new illegal mining fronts in priority areas, such as protected area buffer zones, as well as persistent activity in degraded areas. Monitoring persistent activity includes assessing growth of ponds and detecting activity by identifying changes in water spectral signature. The second objective is to classify the occurrence of the activity (illegal, informal, and formal) according to the government’s new formalization process, to better understand how legal mining impacts the forest as distinguished from illegal mining. Read more

Ecosystem Services Modeling in The Amazon's Forest-Agricultural Interface

This service provides accurate maps for stakeholders and decision-makers to understand the policy and economic scenarios that tip agricultural production systems towards deforestation, particularly due to palm oil and cocoa production. Through this service, SERVIR developed a prototype tool that utilizes accurate plantation maps to allow stakeholders to understand crop expansion over deforested areas and to assess farmer compliance with Zero Deforestation Supply Chain initiatives. SERVIR will involve end-users in validating satellite-based data from SAR and Lidar observations to address local conservation and economic issues. For example, based on this information decision-makers can provide incentives for local farmers to invest in sustainable crop intensification. Local farmers can apply this information to make optimum use of degraded lands as opposed to expanding into high-biomass, high-conservation value forests. Furthermore, farmers can use data from the tool to participate in certification programs that will help them get better returns for their products in international markets. Read more

TerraBio (Monitoring forest dynamics from space to enable sustainable livelihoods and biodiversity conservation in the Amazon)

The service introduces a monitoring tool to assess the impact of private sector engagement on biodiversity conservation in the Amazon by characterizing forest and habitat dynamics. The tool’s geospatial analysis links in-situ biodiversity data with annual maps of habitat conditions and will present information on changes in the amount, condition, and connectivity of forest habitat. It will also provide information on potential unintended consequences of private sector engagement by tracking forest loss, degradation, and increases in forest fragmentation. This information will be monitored by creating maps of forest extent and agroforestry systems such as tree commodities, forest regrowth, and degradation, all of which will be created using time series analysis on publicly available satellite imagery. The information will be analyzed in conjunction with in-situ biodiversity data collected in the Amazon. Read more

Mapping of Soil fertility in Ecuador

The service consists in the generation of high-resolution (30 m) digital soil maps of key nutrients for the agriculture development in collaboration with the Ecuadorian Ministry of Agriculture by combining different environmental variables with soil-collected data using digital soil mapping (DSM) approaches. For the DSM, available information such as the geopedological map, soil profiles, geomorphology, land use and cover map, as well as the digital elevation model with a 30 meter spatial resolution, maps and / or climate data (temperature, precipitation), satellite images, among others will be used. Maps developed in this service will be used by the Ministry of Agriculture to support its efforts in maintaining rural soil fertility, increasing productivity and preventing contamination contributing to reduce soil desertification and soil degradation in Ecuador.

The improved environmental decision-making that we expect to derive from these needs-based services are for example the prioritization of fire management interventions, the adjustment of infrastructure plans, or the empowerment of local communities to track land use in their territories. They will support our partner countries in the adoption of climate-smart practices in the goal of conserving the lands and coastal areas of the Amazon basin.