TerraAmazon: A Large Environmental Database Developed in TerraLib.

TerraAmazon is a system that allows assisted interpretation of multi-temporal images from various satellites, in a corporative, distributed and concurrent environment, in order to produce maps of continental size. It accounts for a modular system composed by visualization, vector edition, and thematic classification functions, endowed with process control to be operated in a client-server environment.

TerraAmazon uses components available as free software, based on the TerraLib library (http://www.terralib.org/), developed by the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research - INPE. TerraLib is a web-based GIS classes and functions library, which main objective is to enable the development of a new generation of GIS applications, based on the technological advances on spatial databases. Some TerraAmazon functionalities are available as plug-ins compatible with other applications developed in TerraLib. TerraAmazon architecture basically consists of a TerraLib database, which uses a PostgreSQL database management system.

In other words, TerraAmazon is a GIS tool designed to be a multi-user editor of geographic vector data stored in a TerraLib model database. It engages land use and land cover classification tools as well as spatial operations between vector data, allowing transitions analysis among other applications. TerraAmazon keeps work time records for project control. Its functionalities are extensible through plugins, such as the already existing TerraImage, containing algorithms for filtering, contrast, morphological operators, segmentation, supervised and non-supervised classification and alike. The visualization plug-in used by TerraAmazon is TerraView, which is also based on TerraLib.

TerraAmazon was created in early 2005. It was initially applied to SISPRODES project and quickly conquered space in other projects, such as DETER and DEGRAD, among others, due to its multi-user characteristic. SISPRODES provides deforestation rates for the whole Brazilian Amazon on a yearly basis, using medium resolution satellite images and images processing techniques, representing the official government data on deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. DETER is a sort of alert system designed to identify new deforestation foci in the Amazon regarding both clear cut and selective logging, using Terra/Acqua MODIS sensor and CBERS WFI (250 m) on a monthly basis. And DEGRAD, on its turn, is a system conceived to map degraded forest areas where the forest cover has not yet been completely removed, using medium resolution satellite images from LandSat TM and CBERS CCD sensors.

In the Second National Communication of Brazil to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), TerraAmazon was used to generate the data on Land-use Change and Forestry for the years 1994 and 2002. It is worth mentioning that TerraAmazon has been transferred to some African countries, as it has been the case of Gabon, western Africa, where TerraAmazon has been employed for mapping its deforested areas.


Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE) and Fundação de Ciência, Aplicações e Tecnologia Espaciais (FUNCATE). Data Production - Demonstration Program. Available at:

Valeriano, D. M. Brazilian Amazon Monitoring Program. Available at: http://conference.gistda.or.th/2ndgeoforest/templates/techline_de_templa...

Redd Vietnam. Experience learning from Brazilian TerraAmazon system. Available at: