Terraso Frequently Asked Questions

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Integrated Landscape Management

A landscape is a naturally-bounded, interdependent ecosystem. It may be a valley, a series of valleys that make up a watershed, and it may include the oceanic areas impacted by a river’s outflow. A landscape’s boundaries may or may not follow historical political boundaries. Consideration of a landscape must include the people who live there and depend on its natural resources.

Integrated landscape management is a long-term collaboration among the people who inhabit and depend on the landscape to live and use resources in a sustainable or regenerative way.

  • ILM is locally led.  The ILM approach presumes that when communities come together to identify and address problems and solutions, sustainable development is more likely to succeed. 
  • ILM promotes human welfare and natural welfare simultaneously.  The ILM process seeks to identify positive synergies between human activities and a sustainable ecosystem, promoting biodiversity, soil health, food security, water quality, and thriving livelihoods while mitigating and adapting to climate change.

For More information see ILM Overview.

1000 Landscapes for 1 Billion People

“1000 Landscapes” is a broad collaboration working to make it easier for community teams around the globe to practice integrated landscape management: a locally-led inclusive approach to holistic sustainable development.

1000 Landscapes has four pillars of action:

  • Capacity Building. Develop and deliver curricula to support the formation of Landscape Partnerships (LPs), the training of LP leadership, and the necessary skills to pursue Integrated Landscape Management.
  • Finance Solutions. Bridge the gap between national and global financial resources and the needs of landscape partnerships by standardizing and implementing financial instruments which make it easier to fund ILM projects.
  • Knowledge Sharing and Collective Action. Create a Global Action Network to enhance communication and alliances between landscape leaders, helping to influence policy at all levels and share best practices.
  • Software Support. Terraso provides software applications and services which support both the leadership of landscape partnerships while performing ILM, and access to the capacity building, financing systems and networking of 1000 Landscapes’ broader work.

The core partners are: EcoAgriculture Partners, Rainforest Alliance, Commonland, Conservation International, Landscape Finance Lab, United Nations Development Programme, and Tech Matters. These organizations are supported by more than 20 additional partner organizations sharing technical and finance expertise. Individuals and organizations working directly in the communities we serve are critical design partners in guiding our work. 1000 Landscapes’ network of collaborators will expand over time.

For More information see About 1000 Landscapes.

Terraso Basics

Terraso provides the software technology to support the broader mission of 1000 Landscapes. Terraso will encompass both applications (apps) for use on the mobile devices of local leaders and community participants, and internet-based web pages and services (platform) for storing and using landscape data.

The Terraso software and platform provide the digital backbone for the concepts and programs of the “1000 Landscapes for 1 Billion People” initiative.

Terraso will provide everyone with access to software apps and web tools which will help them organize, plan, and implement sustainable development projects in their own communities, their own landscapes, using the ideas of Integrated Landscape Management.

The Terraso software will be provided at no charge under an open source license. The Terraso platform will be operated as a not-for-profit entity, where many services are free, but some may require usage fees to support their costs.

The first parts of the Terraso software will be released in the second half of 2021.

Terraso will never “lock in” your data. You will always be able to leave the Terraso platform and shift to other software or methods and take your data with you.

The Terraso software is designed to help community leaders organize, plan, fund, and execute sustainable development projects using the methods of “integrated landscape management”. Some of the Terraso software runs as an app on your phone, tablet, or computer; some of the Terraso software runs as a service on computers that you connect to via the internet. All Terraso software is open source.

The Terraso platform is the portion of the Terraso software which you access through your web browser, and runs on computer servers (managed by Tech Matters) that you connect to via the internet (“the cloud”). It provides access to data, calculations, and analytic capabilities via a browser and via connections between different applications connected with Terraso. We plan to host some landscape-related data in cloud for landscape partnerships, where that data remains under the control of the landscape partnership (not Terraso).

One way to think about it is that software doesn’t do anything by itself, like a recipe for bread. If you buy ingredients and bake some bread, then you are creating something useful with the recipe. In the same way, if you install the software on computers, and ensure that it is operating and helping people, we call that operating a “cloud platform”.

Terraso Functionality

We are still working with our design partners to determine Terraso’s first features and capabilities. Please contact us if you would like to participate.

The current Terraso software is freely available on the GitHub cloud platform. Tech Matters is working with particular landscapes on the design and development of Terraso; if you are in a landscape that wishes to participate in this process, please contact us.

Terraso testing has not yet begun. We expect our design partners to be the first testers. If you would like to help test Terraso, please contact us.

Data Ownership & Data Portability

Not unless your landscape leaders decide to share it with them. Data stored in the Terraso platform is maintained by Tech Matters solely for the benefit of each community, and will not be released to anyone without the community’s consent. Notwithstanding this commitment, valid government legal demands for access will be satisfied. Certain data, e.g. farm or business economic data, will be stored in an encrypted form, and neither Tech Matters nor anyone without the key will be able to access it.

Tech Matters access to Terraso data is limited to administrative purposes on behalf of each landscape community, and no other 1000 Landscapes partner will have access unless it is granted by that owning community. Tech Matters access to the data is governed by the Terraso “Terms of Service” and “Privacy Policy”.

Some apps and services which are part of Terraso will come from other organizations or companies. Although Tech Matters will work with these partners to ensure that they are committed to Terraso’s data ownership and portability policies, if there is an exception, this will be clearly indicated so that you can make an informed choice.

Yes, data stored in the Terraso platform will be backed up. Because the Terraso platform operates in the cloud, communities will be able to automatically back up and create safe copies of their data.

Terraso Software Licensing

A software license is the legal document which specifies the terms and conditions under which software can be used. An open source license provides terms which generally allow free use and modification of the software.

The license for the portions of the Terraso software created by Tech Matters will be the Affero General Public License, version 3. Terraso is also expected to take advantage of software created by other groups, and these components are covered by the licenses chosen by their developers, which may be different. Some software included in or recommended by Terraso may not be open source if such software seems to be the best available solution.

Management and Direction of Terraso

The Terraso software is provided under an open source license and is free to all. The source code of Terraso is published on the GitHub cloud platform, and anyone is free to download and modify Terraso for their own use without the need to get permission or pay a license fee.

The legal copyright to the Terraso software is owned by Benetech, the nonprofit organization which is the parent of Tech Matters, which has created Terraso.

The features and functions to be implemented are designed entirely around the needs and preferences of landscape partnerships, the Terraso users. Initially, they were selected by Terraso’s co-design partners (a user group of a dozen diverse types of landscape partnerships). All users and potential users are welcome to provide input.

The start-up phase of the Terraso project has been supported by philanthropic donors, including the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, Schmidt Futures, IKEA Foundation and the Hitz Family Foundation.

A Terraso platform will be operated by Tech Matters, the Terraso developer. Since all of the Terraso software is provided under an open source license and is free to all, anyone else is also free to operate an alternative online platform using the Terraso software.

The Terraso software would continue to be available under the open source license, and any other group (or groups) could continue to maintain the software without interruption. Tech Matters has also committed to a smooth transition in this unlikely scenario, including reasonable notice to all users and transfer of the operation of the platform to an organization designated by the 1000 Landscapes for 1 Billion People initiative.

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