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LandCover: A Mobile Tool for Vegetation Monitoring

AUTHOR:  Amy Quandt, LandPKS
DATE:  February 9, 2018

The LandCover module guides users through the point-intercept method to monitor vegetation cover.

LandPKS has created a mobile application that helps land managers collect, store, and analyze data in order to inform decision making, agricultural production, and vegetation monitoring and restoration. It does this through the use of the LandPKS Mobile app, which is free to download and use for both Android and iPhone. The LandPKS app currently has two modules: LandInfo and LandCover.

The major goal of the LandCover module is to assist users with collecting vegetation cover data using a point-intercept method. LandCover is designed to be a simple, user-friendly substitute for traditional paper monitoring sheets for vegetation cover. The only equipment needed is a meter\yard stick and the LandPKS app installed on a smartphone. First, the user designates a center point of the plot. Next, the user walks 5 meter\yards in one direction from the center, drops the stick, measures plant height, and establishes if there are canopy or basal gaps. This is then repeated at 10, 15, 20, and 25 meter\yards along that given transect. Lastly, this process is repeated in the 3 remaining transects. Overall, this method yields 100 points of vegetation cover data per plot in about 20 minutes.


Selection of vegetation and cover types in the LandCover module of the LandPKS app. Users choose from these simple images to determine what types of vegetation are present at their site

Results are calculated immediately on the phone about the cover type, plant cover, canopy height, and gaps. In addition to receiving results on the phone. Users can also access their data on our open-source data portal. Further, a user can enter vegetation cover data for the same plot at various intervals and immediately get results about trends in vegetation cover. LandCover can be used globally, and the module is currently being used extensively in the rangelands Namibia and Kenya.

There are several important advantages of using the LandCover module for measuring vegetation cover. First, it gets rid of paper forms that can be lost or damaged. Second, results are delivered immediately to a user without the need for extensive data analysis. This benefit was mentioned by rangeland managers in Samuru County, Kenya, who told the LandPKS team that now they can see results directly on the phone themselves, instead of waiting months to maybe get results back from their headquarter offices.





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