Terasso Platform

The Terraso digital platform is a central component of the 1000 Landscapes (1000L) initiative. We have spent more than a year interviewing local landscape leaders around the world, and have heard loud and clear how better information, tools, and financing could enable the 1000L vision of locally-led change. We use the standard Silicon Valley lean/agile/human-centered-design approaches, and this discovery phase has been an essential first step. We heard five themes from these local leaders:

  • build it to work with our technology and our capabilities;
  • ensure we gather, organize, and control the data about our place;
  • deliver maps we can use;
  • help us communicate with our community and the world;
  • help us get the money we need.
farmer with tablet and bananas

Underlying each of these themes are dozens of user stories about how technology can facilitate the goals of 1000L to help these communities. They need data about their ecosystems, and they need it delivered in an accessible form (not complex GIS software). They need help developing scientifically sound action plans which can gain consensus and political support. They need help taking their priority actions and turning them into investable projects and businesses. They need communications tools to engage with their communities about sentiment, weather, pests, climate-smart agriculture, as well as telling the outside world about their place (for tourism), their products, and why they are worthy of investment. They need the platform to work well with the technology they actually have, which is generally Android smart phones with lousy and/or expensive data connections.

As we develop Terraso, we work closely with a group of Co-Design landscapes who ground our efforts in the realities they face and provide feedback for the solutions we’re exploring. Our initial cohort began with about a dozen landscapes located around the world; this number will grow as we expand Terraso to support more regions and more landscape challenges.

Co-Design Landscapes

Terraso will be delivered as a software-as-a-service platform, where local landscape leaders have their own user accounts linked to a specific landscape initiative. For example, one of our early landscapes will be the Lari-Kijabe landscape in Kiambu county in Kenya (Kenya is organized into counties rather than states or provinces). The key leader coordinating the stakeholders is a longtime Kenyan landscape leader with experience inside both NGOs and government. When he logs into Terraso online, he will automatically be placed in the Lari instance of Terraso, which has extensive data about the county, both collected by the community and organizations in the landscape, as well as other data (such as GIS knowledge maps) of the county. He will have an extensive array of tools he can use, and data he can access, but the focus will be on the priority projects and activities he has chosen. He might focus on finding funding for ecosystems services, or gaining consensus for a five-year local land use plan which needs to be delivered to the Kenyan national government in the next four months. Our goal is that Terraso is an indispensable part of helping this landscape leader and his community reach their social, economic, and environmental goals over many years.
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