Rangeland Ecology & Management

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Plowprint and MapBiomas: Tracking the loss of native grasslands in South America
Hoth, J.
Bird Life International Americas
Publication Year

Report prepared for BirdLife International Americas. The growing loss of native grasslands is a worldwide challenge, not only in terms of addressing the agents of change but also in terms of accurately tracking their loss across landscapes. Having started less than 10 years ago, Plowprint and MapBiomas are two leading initiatives that have been successfully applied to track land-use changes in North America´s Great Plains and South American Pampas, respectively. Plowprint is an initiative developed by WWF-US which is limited to North America as it relies upon the databases provided by the US and the Canadian governments. Established in 2015 in South America, MapBiomas is a collaborative multi-institutional and multinational initiative that relies on Landsat imagery made accessible by Google Earth Engine. This approach has been applied to various biomes throughout the region, including the grasslands associated with the Pampas. Part of its success is due to 1) its reliance upon a regional network of researchers from multiple organizations; 2) its support by Google´s engine computing platform; 3) its free and open access to its information; and, 4) keeping its development independent from governments. Given the level of progress achieved by MapBiomas in assessing land-use changes in various South American biomes–including grasslands– a key recommendation is for BirdLife to consider building synergies with this initiative.

Resource Type
Document Type
Technical Report
native grasslands
remote sensing