Exploring Land Use and Cover in Osa and Golfito

Publication Date: 
Thursday, April 24, 2014
April Newsletter No. III
Photo Credit: 
Eben Broadbent

A bird’s-eye view of the Osa and Golfito would tell an interesting story: grazing pastures converted to palm oil plantations, homes being built, roads being paved, and even a better understanding of how different forested areas might connect and form biological corridors.

As a part of the INOGO Phase 1 Terrestrial Ecosystems Component, an in-depth analysis of land use and land cover in the region was undertaken using RapidEye satellite images.  This analysis, called INOGO Mapas, is currently in a “beta” (draft) form.  INOGO Mapas is based on the prior Ecomapas land use classification, which was produced by INBio in 1998-99.  INOGO Mapas is the highest resolution (5x5 m.) land cover classification of the Osa and Golfito region, and likely of almost any study area of comparable size in the world. The map partitions the landscape into more than a million unique polygons with each one classified through an automated process followed by manual verification. This map is virtually cloud free, a feat achieved by using up to eight individual satellite images of the same location to acquire cloud-free viewing of each pixel. In total, INOGO Mapas uses 46 individual RapidEye satellite images, acquired through a custom tasking of the satellite for the INOGO study area during the summer of 2012.

The final version this map, and the associated spatial data, will be available to research scientists, NGOs, and any other interested parties.  INOGO Mapas will provide a high-resolution baseline map of the Osa and Golfito region in 2012-13 from which to gauge future changes. INOGO scientists are currently planning to continue improving and updating INOGO Mapas products in the years to come.

INOGO is now beginning a collaborative participatory improvement and validation effort using the iNaturalist.org platform to allow easy collaboration among any and all interested individuals or institutions. If you would like to participate please join our iNaturalist project at:


Participation requires a free iNaturalist account. If you are in the Osa and Golfito region, you can contribute observations to the project using a GPS-enabled Android or Apple Smart Phone, or a GPS device coupled with a digital camera. If you are not in the area, you can still participate by helping to identify the land use or land cover areas within the images uploaded to the project by other members.

If you or your organization would like to learn more about INOGO Mapas, including opportunities to collaborate in the improvement and validation effort, please contact Eben Broadbent by email at eben@amazonico.org or in Costa Rica on his mobile phone at (506) 8589-0618.