Local Ecological Footprinting Tool (LEFT)
LEFT is an internet-based decision support tool for evaluating the pattern of relative ecological value across a landscape. Such knowledge can help minimise environmental impact when planning development on that landscape. A user defines an area of interest anywhere in the world and the tool automatically processes a series of high-quality datasets using standardised published algorithms to produce maps at 300-metre resolution. The maps show landcover class, number of globally threatened terrestrial vertebrate species, beta-diversity of terrestrial vertebrates and flowering plants, habitat fragmentation, wetland habitat connectivity, number of migratory species, and vegetation resilience. Results are aggregated to produce a single map of relative ecological value.
LEFT’s straightforward web interface makes it possible for a new user to submit an analysis within a few minutes of coming to the website. No specialist software or GIS expertise is necessary. All analyses are secure and confidential. LEFT produces a customised PDF report containing 11 maps and a detailed explanation of the analysis process. Additionally, all the maps are provided as geotiffs in a zip file for specialist users to process with GIS software. Results are delivered to users by email within a few minutes of job submission.
LEFT is a valuable tool for businesses, academics, and NGOs, among others. To use the tool, please click here.
Reference: Willis KJ, Jeffers ES, Tovar C, Long PR, Caithness N, Smit MGD, Hagemann R, Collin-Hansen C, Weissenberger J (2012). Determining the ecological value of landscapes beyond protected areas. Biological Conservation, 147(1): 3-12. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2011.11.001