Tech Matters, a non-profit tech company, launched Terraso to address a deadly problem: The severe impact of climate change on local communities. There are very few tech and data resources for many communities most impacted by climate change. As a result, local leaders such as small governments, landowners, indigenous people, and investors are not equipped to make effective data-driven decisions at the ground-level. On top of this, concerns about data colonization are on the rise as outside researchers rush to collect and extract data, but fail to leave a lasting benefit for communities.
Inspired by nonprofit Digital Democracy’s use of the Mapbox interactive storytelling solution, Tech Matters created a new open source tool from the same code: Terraso Story Maps. With an easy-to-use, no-code interface to create interactive maps, Terraso allows local community organizations to effectively communicate the story of their landscape, their plan for action, and its expected impact.
Tell Impactful Stories with Terraso and Mapbox
Terraso not only allows local leaders to collect, store, and manage data, but also enables them to present that data through maps and visualization tools. These visualizations are created and utilized by local communities for a wide variety of objectives, such as making the case to funding sources, educating consumers on locally produced products, and helping stakeholders find common ground in a sustainable vision for their ecosystem.
Users of Terraso can include local landscape leaders, conservationists, environmental NGOs, Indigenous peoples, small landholders, and farmers and ranchers. For the Terraso project to be a success, Tech Matters identified that its open-source technology must be easily accessible for all its users, without requiring experience with web development or coding. This is where Mapbox interactive storytelling maps came in.
Data-Driven Storytelling Maps Without Coding
Terraso is built with Mapbox GL JS based on the Mapbox Storytelling template. With a visual interface and integrated CMS (Content Management System), users can build an interactive story about their landscape using a map as the canvas. Simply move the map from point to point, and attach text, video, and audio to each location. The result is an accessible, compelling, and visually vibrant narrative ready to publish to the web.
Terraso In Action
Terraso is a perfect example of how Mapbox technology – in the hands of passionate, knowledgeable, and creative people – can create something transformative. Local communities are already using Terraso all around the world to shed light on stories that are not widely known, from locations that are often rarely traveled.
The Mud that Makes Us provides the history of how Guyana’s colonial legacy impacts the coastline of today. This interactive story takes viewers on a journey from the highlands of the Guyana Shield mountain range, to a coastline giving way to the powerful sea. By combining traditional “grey” sea defenses (concrete walls, sea dams, jetties, etc.) with “green” nature-based approaches (mud, mangroves, saltmarshes, etc.), Guyana hopes to protect its coastline from further flooding.
Fundación ALDEA created Tierras en Conflicto, which sheds light on land theft happening in Ecuador. The theft of lands and territories in Ecuador is a historical problem that is still unresolved today, with links to deforestation, degradation, and socio-environmental injustice.
Hear more from community organizations building with Terraso in the recent launch webinar.
Take Storytelling Maps To The Next Level
If you’re inspired by the Terraso story maps, and would like to tell your own story, the Mapbox interactive storytelling template is the place to start.
The template is highly flexible for web developers. Experiment with adding various visualization layers to the map style that turn on and off for different chapters. Add camera effects, 3D terrain views, and more. To connect with a community of other developers building with the storytelling template and GL JS more broadly, join our Developer Discord.
Support For Community Organizations
As a global company, Mapbox has seen how location technology can shine a light on some of the world’s toughest challenges. That is why it is part of the Mapbox mission to get the best location tools into the hands of changemakers around the world. If you’re interested in partnering with the Mapbox social impact program to create change for good, connect with us.
Terraso is an integral part of 1000 Landscapes for 1 Billion People, a global collaboration convened by EcoAgriculture Partners, and co-led with Rainforest Alliance, Commonland, Conservation International, the United Nations Development Programme, and Tech Matters. To learn more about Terraso, visit https://terraso.org/.