In this project, researchers developed an automated web-service known as the Local Ecological Footprinting Tool or LEFT, to carry out environmental impact assessments quickly and easily with a minimum of user input. Based on measures of biodiversity, vulnerability, fragmentation, connectivity, and resilience, the service uses freely available data from GBIF and other sources to output a map and report of ecological features and risks. To test the performance of the tool, the researchers compared results from an automated report with biological field study data for a number of validation sites and found that the tool provides very robust results. However, regional gaps in biological occurrence data can have the effect of adding to the results’ uncertainty.
Willis KJ, Seddon AWR, Long PR, Jeffers ES, Caithness N, Thurston M, Smit MGD, Hagemann R and Macias-Fauria M (2015) Remote assessment of locally important ecological features across landscapes: how representative of reality? Ecological Applications. Wiley-Blackwell 25(5): 1290–1302. Available at doi:10.1890/14-1431.1.