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In the following we will demonstrate an idealized workflow based on a subset of the WorldPop data set that is delivered together with this package. You can follow along the code snippets below to reproduce the results. Please note that to reduce the time it takes to process this vignette, we will not download any resources from the internet. In a real use case, thus processing time might substantially increase because resources have to be downloaded and real portfolios might be larger than the one created in this example.

This vignette assumes that you have already followed the steps in Installation and have familiarized yourself with the terminology used in the package. If you are unfamiliar with the terminology used here, please head over to the Terminology article to learn about the most important concepts.

The idealized workflow for using mapme.biodiversity consists of the following steps:

  • prepare your sf-object containing only geometries of type 'POLYGON'
  • decide which indicator(s) you wish to calculate and make the required resource(s) available
  • conduct your indicator calculation, which adds a nested list column to your portfolio object
  • continue your analysis in R or decide to export your results to a GeoPackage and use it with other geospatial software

Getting started

First, we will load the mapme.biodiversity and the sf package for handling spatial vector data. For tabular data handling, we will also load the dplyr and tidyr packages. Then, we will read an internal GeoPackage which includes the geometry of a protected area in the Dominican Republic from the WDPA database.


aoi_path <- system.file("extdata", "sierra_de_neiba_478140.gpkg", package = "mapme.biodiversity")
(aoi <- read_sf(aoi_path))
#> Simple feature collection with 1 feature and 4 fields
#> Geometry type: MULTIPOLYGON
#> Dimension:     XY
#> Bounding box:  xmin: -71.80933 ymin: 18.57668 xmax: -71.33201 ymax: 18.69931
#> Geodetic CRS:  WGS 84
#> # A tibble: 1 × 5
#>   WDPAID NAME            DESIG_ENG     ISO3                                 geom
#>    <dbl> <chr>           <chr>         <chr>                  <MULTIPOLYGON [°]>
#> 1 478140 Sierra de Neiba National Park DOM   (((-71.76134 18.66333, -71.76067 1…

The sf-object contains a single object of geometry type 'MULTIPOLYGON'. The mapme.biodiversity package, however, only supports geometries of type 'POLYGON', thus we need to cast the geometry before we advance. The resulting sf object also contains some metadata, that will be retained throughout the complete workflow. Because some of the casted geometries represent artefacts of the digitization process, in this example we will subset to include only the largest polygon.

(aoi <- st_cast(aoi, to = "POLYGON")[1, ])
#> Warning in st_cast.sf(aoi, to = "POLYGON"): repeating attributes for all
#> sub-geometries for which they may not be constant
#> Simple feature collection with 1 feature and 4 fields
#> Geometry type: POLYGON
#> Dimension:     XY
#> Bounding box:  xmin: -71.80731 ymin: 18.58134 xmax: -71.33268 ymax: 18.69799
#> Geodetic CRS:  WGS 84
#> # A tibble: 1 × 5
#>   WDPAID NAME            DESIG_ENG     ISO3                                 geom
#>    <dbl> <chr>           <chr>         <chr>                       <POLYGON [°]>
#> 1 478140 Sierra de Neiba National Park DOM   ((-71.76202 18.66333, -71.74668 18…

In the following, we will simulate a portfolio consisting of several polygons (assets, in the jargon of this package). To this end, we create smaller polygons within the original extent of the main polygon. This way, we can showcase the behavior of the mapme.biodiversity package for portfolios that contain multiple assets. We will only select single assets with geometry type 'POLYGON' that lie within the original boundary of the protected area.

aoi_gridded <- st_make_grid(
  x = st_bbox(aoi),
  n = c(10, 10),
  square = FALSE
) %>%
  st_intersection(aoi) %>%
  st_as_sf() %>%
  mutate(geom_type = st_geometry_type(x)) %>%
  filter(geom_type == "POLYGON") %>%
  select(-geom_type, geom = x) %>%

metanames <- names(st_drop_geometry(aoi))
aoi_gridded[metanames] <- st_drop_geometry(aoi)

Initialization of a portfolio

Now, we are ready to initiate a portfolio object containing multiple assets. We use the mapme_options() function and set some arguments, such as the output directory, that are important for the subsequent processing.

# copying package internal resource to a temporary location
outdir <- file.path(tempdir(), "mapme.biodiversity")
resource_dir <- system.file("res", package = "mapme.biodiversity")
file.copy(resource_dir, outdir, recursive = TRUE)
#> [1] TRUE

  outdir = file.path(outdir, "res"),
  verbose = TRUE

The outdir argument points towards a directory on the local file system of your machine. All downloaded resources will be written to respective directories nested within outdir.

Once you request a specific resource for your portfolio, only those files will be downloaded that are missing to match its spatio-temporal extent. This behavior is beneficial, e.g. in case you share the outdir between different projects to ensure that only resources matching your current portfolio are returned.

The verbose logical controls whether or not the package will print informative messages during the calculations. Note, that even if set to FALSE, the package will inform users about any potential errors or warnings.

Getting the right resources

You can check which indicators are available via the available_indicators() function:

#> # A tibble: 26 × 3
#>    name                   description                                  resources
#>    <chr>                  <chr>                                        <list>   
#>  1 active_fire_counts     Number of detected fires by NASA FIRMS       <tibble> 
#>  2 active_fire_properties Extraction of properties of fires detected … <tibble> 
#>  3 biome                  Areal statistics of biomes from TEOW         <tibble> 
#>  4 deforestation_drivers  Areal statistics of deforestation drivers    <tibble> 
#>  5 drought_indicator      Relative wetness statistics based on NASA G… <tibble> 
#>  6 ecoregion              Areal statstics of ecoregions based on TEOW  <tibble> 
#>  7 elevation              Statistics of elevation based on NASA SRTM   <tibble> 
#>  8 fatalities             Number of fatalities by group of conflict b… <tibble> 
#>  9 gsw_change             Statistics of the surface water change laye… <tibble> 
#> 10 gsw_occurrence         Areal statistic of surface water based on o… <tibble> 
#> # ℹ 16 more rows
#> # A tibble: 1 × 3
#>   name             description                    resources       
#>   <chr>            <chr>                          <list>          
#> 1 population_count Statistic of population counts <tibble [1 × 5]>

Say, we are interested in the population_count indicator. We can learn more about this indicator and its required resources by using either of the commands below or, if you are viewing the online version, head over to the population_count documentation.


By inspecting the help page we learned that this indicator requires the worldpop resource and it requires to specify two extra arguments: the population statistic to calculate and the eninge to be used for the calculation (learn more about engines here).

With that information at hand, we can start to retrieve the required resource. We can learn about all available resources using the available_resources() function:

#> # A tibble: 23 × 5
#>    name                             description             licence source type 
#>    <chr>                            <chr>                   <chr>   <chr>  <chr>
#>  1 chirps                           Climate Hazards Group … CC - u… https… rast…
#>  2 esalandcover                     Copernicus Land Monito… CC-BY … https… rast…
#>  3 fritz_et_al                      Drivers of deforestati… CC-BY … https… rast…
#>  4 gfw_emissions                    Global Forest Watch - … CC-BY … https… rast…
#>  5 gfw_lossyear                     Global Forest Watch - … CC-BY … https… rast…
#>  6 gfw_treecover                    Global Forest Watch - … CC-BY … https… rast…
#>  7 global_surface_water_change      Global Surface Water -… https:… https… rast…
#>  8 global_surface_water_occurrence  Global Surface Water -… https:… https… rast…
#>  9 global_surface_water_recurrence  Global Surface Water -… https:… https… rast…
#> 10 global_surface_water_seasonality Global Surface Water -… https:… https… rast…
#> # ℹ 13 more rows
#> # A tibble: 1 × 5
#>   name     description                                      licence source type 
#>   <chr>    <chr>                                            <chr>   <chr>  <chr>
#> 1 worldpop WorldPop - Unconstrained Global Mosaics 2000 - … CC-BY … https… rast…

For the purpose of this vignette, we are going to download the worldpop resource. We can get more detailed information about a given resource, by using either of the commands below to open up the help page. If you are viewing the online version of this documentation, you can simply head over to the worldpop resource documentation.


We can now make the worldpop resource available for our portfolio. We will use a common interface that is used for all resources, called get_resources(). We have to specify our portfolio object and supply one or more resource functions with their respective arguments. This will then download the matching resources to the output directory specified earlier.

aoi_gridded <- get_resources(x = aoi_gridded, get_worldpop(years = 2010:2015))
#> Skipping existing files in output directory.

In case you want to download more than one resource, you can use the same interface and the resources will be made available sequentially. Required arguments for a resource are simply added as usual:

aoi_gridded <- get_resources(
  x = aoi_gridded,
  get_worldpop(years = 2010:2015),
  get_gfw_treecover(version = "GFC-2021-v1.8")

Calculate specific indicators

The next step consists of calculating specific indicators. Note that each indicator requires one or more resources that were made available via the get_resources() function explained above. You will have to re-run this function in every new R session, but note that data that is already available will not be re-downloaded.

Here, we are goingto calculate the population_count indicator which is based on the worldpop resource. Since the resource has been made available in the previous step, we can continue requesting the calculation of our desired indicator. Note the command below would issue an error in case a required resource has not been made available via get_resources() beforehand.

aoi_gridded <- calc_indicators(
  calc_population_count(engine = "zonal", stats = "sum")
#> Found a column named 'assetid'. Overwritting its values with a unique identifier.

Now let’s take a look at the results. We will select only some of the metadata and the output indicator column to get a clearer picture of what has happened.

(aoi_gridded <- aoi_gridded %>% select(assetid, population_count))
#> Simple feature collection with 23 features and 2 fields
#> Geometry type: POLYGON
#> Dimension:     XY
#> Bounding box:  xmin: -71.80731 ymin: 18.58134 xmax: -71.33268 ymax: 18.69799
#> Geodetic CRS:  WGS 84
#> # A tibble: 23 × 3
#>    assetid population_count                                                 geom
#>      <int> <list>                                                  <POLYGON [°]>
#>  1       1 <tibble [6 × 2]> ((-71.78358 18.65871, -71.78358 18.67725, -71.79993…
#>  2       2 <tibble [6 × 2]> ((-71.79993 18.6867, -71.78358 18.67725, -71.75984 …
#>  3       3 <tibble [6 × 2]> ((-71.76202 18.66333, -71.74668 18.64602, -71.74431…
#>  4       4 <tibble [6 × 2]> ((-71.71238 18.62893, -71.71238 18.63615, -71.73611…
#>  5       5 <tibble [6 × 2]> ((-71.75984 18.69367, -71.75984 18.69095, -71.73611…
#>  6       6 <tibble [6 × 2]> ((-71.71429 18.68985, -71.73611 18.67725, -71.73611…
#>  7       7 <tibble [6 × 2]> ((-71.66702 18.63736, -71.68865 18.64985, -71.71238…
#>  8       8 <tibble [6 × 2]> ((-71.70975 18.68944, -71.68865 18.67725, -71.67141…
#>  9       9 <tibble [6 × 2]> ((-71.67141 18.68721, -71.68865 18.67725, -71.68865…
#> 10      10 <tibble [6 × 2]> ((-71.64095 18.64971, -71.64119 18.64985, -71.64178…
#> # ℹ 13 more rows

We obtained a new listed column in our sf-object that is named like the requested indicator. For each asset in our portfolio, this column contains a tibble with 6 rows and two columns. Let’s have a closer look at one of these objects.

#> [[1]]
#> # A tibble: 6 × 2
#>   population_count_sum year 
#>                  <dbl> <chr>
#> 1                 31.9 2010 
#> 2                 43.3 2011 
#> 3                 32.8 2012 
#> 4                 32.9 2013 
#> 5                 36.5 2014 
#> 6                 38.0 2015

For each asset, the result is a tibble in long format indicating the population sum per year (make sure to read the detailed indicator documentation via ?population_count). Let’s quickly visualize the results for a single asset:

If you wish to conduct your statistical analysis in R, you can use tidyr functionality to unnest one or multiple columns. Especially for large portfolios, it is usually a good idea to keep the geometry information in a separated variable to keep the size of the data object relatively small.

geometries <- select(aoi_gridded, assetid)
aoi_gridded %>%
  st_drop_geometry() %>%
#> # A tibble: 138 × 3
#>    assetid population_count_sum year 
#>      <int>                <dbl> <chr>
#>  1       1                 305. 2010 
#>  2       1                 313. 2011 
#>  3       1                 324. 2012 
#>  4       1                 321. 2013 
#>  5       1                 286. 2014 
#>  6       1                 330. 2015 
#>  7       2                 217. 2010 
#>  8       2                 218. 2011 
#>  9       2                 224. 2012 
#> 10       2                 241. 2013 
#> # ℹ 128 more rows

Enabling parallel computing

mapme.biodiversity follows the parallelization paradigm of the {future} package. That means that you as a user are in the control if and how you would like to set up parallel processing. Currently, mapme.biodiversity supports parallel processing on the asset level of the calc_indicators() function only. We also currently assume that parallel processing is done on the cores of a single machine. In future developments, we would like to support distributed processing. If you are working on a distributed use-cases, please contact the developers, e.g. via the discussion board or mail.

To process e.g. 6 assets in parallel and report a progress bar you will have to set up the following in your code:


plan(multisession, workers = 6) # set up parallel plan with 6 concurrent threads

  aoi_gridded <- calc_indicators(
      engine = "zonal",
      stats = "sum"

plan(sequential) # close child processes

Note, that the above code uses future::multisession() as the parallel backend. This backend will resolve the calculation in multiple background R sessions. You should use that backend if you are operating on Windows, using R Studio or otherwise are not sure about which backend to use. In case you are operating on a system that allows process forking and are not using R Studio, consider using future::multicore() for more efficient parallel processing.

Exporting an portfolio object

You can use the write_portfolio() function to save a processed portfolio object to disk as a GeoPackage. This allows sharing your data with others who might not be using R, but any other geospatial software. Simply point towards a non-existing file on your local disk to write the portfolio. The function will create an individual table for all processed indicators. Via the read_portfolio() function, a portfolio which has been written to disk in such a way can be read back into R. However, users should note that the portfolio-wide arguments that were set with mapme_options() are not reconstructed. Thus if you wish to continue to use mapme.biodiversity functionality on such a portfolio object, make sure to re-run init_portfolio()` on it.

tmp_output <- tempfile(fileext = ".gpkg")
  x = aoi_gridded,
  dsn = tmp_output
(portfolio_from_disk <- read_portfolio(tmp_output))