Wiped off the map: historical aerial photos document the communities Apartheid tried to erase
Since the 1930s aerial photographs covering all of South Africa have been collected, documenting radical changes in our country’s landscape. Incredible stories are documented in this archive. They show how human activities have encroached on natural ecosystems, how cities have grown and reshaped themselves over time and in some cases, how apartheid left scars that remain unhealed to this day. Below are three interactive maps showing the brutal reality of how three communities were erased by the apartheid government.
Real-time detection of land cover change
If you were to judge by media coverage climate change and poaching would probably rank as the biggest threats to biodiversity globally. Yet when systematically assessed, the most important factor causing the massive declines in species across all ecosystems both terrestrial and aquatic is habitat transformation. In South Africa’s terrestrial ecosystem the same is true. High rates of irreversible change to natural ecosystems is ongoing and loss of natural habitat continues to be the leading threat to terrestrial biodiversity.
Automated fynbos identification using iNaturalist and Deep Learning
A lack of knowledge of neural networks has probably been one of the biggest gaps in my data science skillset. I decided to rectify this last year and did some online courses and reading to try get up to speed on simple neural networks, and more complex architecture such as Convolutional Neural Networks and Recurrent Neural Networks. I am really excited by the opportunities these new methods can offer ecology, and already have a number of cool projects fizzing in my brain.
Accessing Planet Labs data API from R
Planet labs Planet labs provides some amazing data for monitoring earth’s ecosystems. Their constellation of satellites provides panchromatic and multiband images of the entire earth almost daily, with spatial resolution down to 80cm. This is an amazing resource for monitoring ecosystems and global change impacts
They offer a 14-day free trial, and you can apply for free usage if you wish to use the data for academic, or non-profit purposes.
How to start a data blog with R + Hugo + Blogdown in 10 short steps
I just finished creating this blog to share stories, teach R skills, create environmental data stories, and most importantly - shamelesly self-promote. It makes sense to share with you a minimal formula for starting your own data blog with R.
Yihui Xie, the master behind Rmarkdown, has kindly created a great framework for blogging with R - blogdown. Blogdown creates Hugo (one of the most popular open-source static site generators) websites, and allows you to write new content using markdown or Rmarkdown.
EMMA wins UN data for climate action challenge
The natural vegetation that grows around Cape Town, South Africa – the Cape Floristic Region (CFR) - is one of the richest repositories of plant life in the world. Here, about 20 percent of Africa’s flora grows in a landscape that accounts for less than 0.5 percent of the continent’s area. The diversity of plant life is among the highest on the planet. About 69 percent of the region’s estimated 9,000 plant species live nowhere else in the world.
Data carpentry Ethiopia
The Ethiopian Education and Research Network (EthERNet) from the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the German International Cooperation (GIZ) Sustainable Training and Education Programme (STEP), the Education Strategy Center (ESC) and Talarify organised its first ever Data Carpentry workshop for young academics and researchers in Ethiopia. The workshop was conducted over two and a half days from 14-16 August 2017 at Addis Ababa Institute of Technology (AAiT).
The main aim was to increase data literacy for researchers and establish a community of good research data practice in Ethiopia in order to increase the presence of Ethiopian researchers in the global research community.