The Rangeland Analysis Platform
“This innovative platform marries Landsat satellite imagery with thousands of on-the-ground vegetation measurements.
NOTE: this content below is originally published to Rangeland App’s Home Page,.
The Rangeland Analysis Platform is an innovative online mapping tool that can be used by anyone—no fees or registration required! This free tool provides quick snapshots of rangeland vegetation. It allows users to easily compare trends in rangeland resources through time at a ranch, county, or watershed scale.
This helps people plan conservation and management actions that improve grazing lands, bolster valuable water and soil resources, and prevent weeds and wildfire.
Monitor vegetation to improve rangelands
The Rangeland Analysis Platform (RAP) provides powerful perspective and context for rangeland monitoring. It makes it easy to develop new strategies that improve range productivity, and to evaluate current or past land management practices.
For example, the RAP was used to evaluate the outcomes of a 2015 prescribed fire in Nebraska (graph above). The goal of the burn was to reduce encroaching conifers and improve range health by increasing the available perennial grasses and shrubs—the plants that feed wildlife and livestock. The RAP shows the average percent cover of trees and perennials within the prescribed fire boundary from 1984 to 2017, indicating a decade-long increase in conifer cover followed by a successful decrease post-burn.
New technology meets on-the-ground data
This innovative platform marries Landsat satellite imagery with thousands of on-the-ground vegetation measurements. The rise of cloud computing and machine-learning technology allows the Rangeland Analysis Platform to instantaneously map the percent cover of plant functional groups, such as annuals, perennials, trees, or bare ground.
The process is dependent on over 30,000 Natural Resources Conservation Service National Resource Inventory (NRI) and Bureau of Land Management Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring (AIM) field plots across the western half of the U.S. Long-term, continuous, on-the-ground measures of vegetation cover are fundamental for informing management and conservation strategies on America’s valuable rangelands. The Rangeland Analysis Platform will continue to add future plot data as it becomes available to increase sample size, and to improve the online platform’s overall accuracy.