Vegetation map for eastern Africa 2.0

Check out the new vegetation map and accompanying tools for identifying and selecting the right tree for the right place in eastern Africa at

The potential natural vegetation (PNV) map of eastern and southern Africa covers the countries Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zambia. The first version of the map was developed by various partners in East Africa and Europe in 2010 and has now reached version 2.

The map is available in different formats and is accompanied by an extensive documentation of the floristic, physiognomic and other characteristics of the different vegetation types and useful woody species in the 8 countries.

The new map was launched yesterday at the XIV World Forestry Congress. ‪#‎Forests2015‬


Screenshot from 2015-09-09 16:50:19

New publication: Environmental Gap Analysis to Prioritize Conservation Efforts in Eastern Africa

Breugel2015Just got an article out in PlosOne. Analysis were carried out and maps and figures created using a stack of open source tools, including GRASS GIS, R, and QGIS. The article addresses the question whether protected areas in Eastern Africa are representative of the diverse range of species and habitats found in the region and whether they protect those areas where biodiversity is threatened most? The paper uses a recently developed high-resolution potential natural vegetation (PNV) map for eastern Africa as a baseline to more effectively identify conservation priorities. It examines how well different potential natural vegetations (PNVs) are represented in the protected area (PA) network of eastern Africa and used a multivariate environmental similarity index to evaluate biases in PA versus PNV coverage. In addition, levels of threat to different PNVs are assessed. Results indicate substantial differences in the conservation status of PNVs and particular PNVs in which biodiversity protection and ecological functions are at risk due to human influences are revealed. The data and approach presented here provide a step forward in developing more transparent and better informed translation from global priorities to regional or national implementation in eastern Africa, and are valid for other geographic regions.

Citation: van Breugel P., R. Kindt, J.-P.B. Lillesø, M. van Breugel (2015) Environmental Gap Analysis to Prioritize Conservation Efforts in Eastern Africa. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0121444. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0121444

MapTiler to create online maps II

In an earlier post I wrote how I created a mash-up map with MapTiler. There is an option in MapTiler to set transparency for a color, but this didn’t work for me at the time. I therefore created a small script to convert the background color to transparent and to process all PNG tiles generated by MapTiler using the PNGNQ utility.

I am working on a new online map and this time setting the background color to transparent in MapTiler works like a charm Continue reading

MapTiler to create online maps

For a project a few years ago we created a vegetation map for central and southwest Kenya (see here for more information). The map together with documentation was initially made available on CD-ROM. I also created an online map. Apart from the version mentioned in this post, I also created a version with MapTiler.

MapTiler requires a georeferences image file as input. To export the vegetation map from my GRASS GIS database to a georeferenced image, I used the r.out.tiff function.

r.out.tiff -t input=veg_ethiopia_pnv@vegetation output=vegethiopia.tif

The resulting file can be used in MapTiler to create map mashups for Google Earth, Google Maps or OpenLayer. MapTiler offers a wizard like interface which leads you step by step through the process. Continue reading

A vegetation map in OpenLayers

For a project a few years ago we created a vegetation map for central and southwest Kenya (see here for more information). The map together with documentation was made available on CD-ROM. However, we wanted to publish the map online too. The original maps were in svg format, and turned out to be too slow for online publishing. Moreover, they could not be combined easily with other maps.

A widely used and open source option for online publishing of maps is OpenLayers. This is a JavaScript library for displaying and building rich web-based geographic applications, similar to what is offered by e.g., Google Maps and MSN Virtual Earth. An important difference though is that OpenLayers is open source software. It furthermore is easy to create dynamic maps on your website with your own data and with direct access to many different maps, including Google, Yahoo, Bing, OpenStreetMap and other datalayers.

As a pilot I have created an OpenLayer map with the vegetation map. Continue reading