Johanna Prüssmann, Colombia

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Johanna Prüssmannloading....   World Wildlife Fund, Colombia 


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Johanna has been part of the WWF Colombia team since 2015, as an Ecosystem Services and Climate Analyst. She majored in Biology at the Universidad de Antioquia and graduated from EAFIT University with an MSc degree in Earth Sciences. She also worked for 10 years as al lecturer in Marine Sciences and GIS at several universities in Colombia, and also worked as a geographic consultant for over 5 years. Right now, she supports the conservation and governance team at WWF Colombia with the integration and analysis of geographical data and the development of cartographic and digital tools to support decision-making processes.for a more sustainable territorial planning.



2019 Profile:  Johanna is a participant in the first-ever SCGIS TTT Summit Meeting.

2019 International Conference Presentation   SESSION:  "PLANNING FOR CLIMATE CHANGE"

2019 Map Gallery Interviewer on TEAM MAPITAS


2018 TTT Certification: At the 2018 Conservation GIS Workshop in Santiago, Chile 

Johanna became at TTT Trainer at the Nov. 2018 SCGISTraining Workshop at the Böll Foundation in Santiago, Chile. Alejandro Vila, another scholar, helped organize the workshop and co-taught with Johanna as the other TTT Candidate-in-training at this workshop. Johanna assisted teaching two classes: ArcGIS for Environmental Analysis  and Advanced Topics for ArcGIS.


        Johanna (C) and Alejandro (L) with John Schaeffer (R)                                              Johanna Teaching Spatial Analysis                    


                                                          Johanna and Alejandro's class happy to have their training diplomas


2017 SCGIS Scholar: Johanna was only the 5th scholar to come from Colombia, and the first to participate in almost 15 years. Colombia was one of the charter countries of our scholarship program as well as our national chapters, thanks to the work of Olga Lucia Hernandez of WWF Colombia. Olga was followed in the next years by additional WWF GIS Colleagues who helped her in founding the SCGIS Chapter, Luis Fernando Gómez in 1999, Silvio Sánchez in 2000 and César Suárez in 2005.  Johanna's scholarship in 2017 also coincided with a year when 4 of the 6 scholarship finalists from the Latin American Continent were women. She was partly sponsored by WWF's Russel E. Train Fund.


2017 Scgis Online Storymap by Johanna



For more than half a century, WWF (World Wildlife Fund or World Wide Fund for Nature) has been working to protect the world's species and natural places, pushing for a more sustainable world. By working with others (local communities, governments, business, other NGO’s), we are defining new ways of working that will make a difference at a scale that matters to help redefine humanity’s relationship with the planet. 


We have a presence in over 100 countries across the world, and our efforts have evolved from localized efforts in favor of a single species and individual habitats to an ambitious strategy to preserve biodiversity and achieve sustainable development across the planet.


WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.



2017 Scgis Conference Paper Presented


TITLE:  "Conservation Opportunities in the Amazon Biome under Climate Change Considerations"

AUTHORS: Johanna Prüssmann, César Suárez and Maria Elfi Cháves


ABSTRACT: "The Amazon Conservation Vision is a shared perspective of biological and cultural conservation in the Amazon biome that contributes to the effective management of the protected areas systems, the maintenance of ecosystem goods and services, as well as the biome’s integrity, functionality and resilience in the face of climate change and natural and anthropogenic effects and threats.


With this perspective in mind and in order to advance in the analysis of climate vulnerability for the biome, a vulnerability assessment with a two-step approach. In the first step, climate models inter-annual and inter-decadal patterns of precipitation and temperature were generated, which allowed us to understand how climate variability behaves in the biome, and where the effects of climate change will be greater, both in magnitude and frequency, in the short and middle term scenarios. The second step encompassed the analysis under climate change scenarios of three ecosystem services, water yield, carbon storage and species habitat.


The resulting analysis, together with the review and mapping of the main anthropogenic drivers of transformation in the biome (deforestation, extensive and intensive agricultural activities, mining and roads), led to the definition and mapping of the Amazon biome integrated climate change risk.

Climate patterns in the Amazon biome are difficult to characterize since they are influenced by both climate change and extreme phases of variability related to atmospheric processes in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The biome also exhibits particular subregional characteristics related to changes in altitude and the relative position of the ITCZ. Our results show the probability of a continuous increase in temperature between 0.3 and 3°C for the period 2021-2030, along with a series of changes in precipitation in different parts of the biome, as well as the persistence of extreme climate events, such as the 2002, 2008 and 2015 floods, and the 2005, 2010 and 2015 droughts, of unprecedented intensity in recent history. The regional climate risk index shows greater influence of climate change in the Brazilian states of Pará, Mato Grosso and Rôndonia in the south eastern zone of the biome.


The quantity and temporality of the supply of key Amazon ecosystem services will probably change due to the incidence of risks related to climate and to changes in land use. The three services studied –carbon storage, supply of fresh water and availability of habitats for several species– will be affected by the impacts of climate change. For example, several watersheds in the Amazon will probably undergo drastic changes; three of them will experience a reduction in water yield ranging from 39 to 50%, while two other watersheds will experience an increase from 36 to 295%. Additionally, carbon content in the Amazon forest will probably be reduced up to 8% over three fourths of the biome.


The analysis of alterations in the distribution of species in the face of possible climate change impacts indicate a high level of dependency of these on natural vegetation coverage and great sensibility to the frequency and magnitude of extreme events. Twenty-four cornerstone species included in the study will probably loose areas of their habitat, which are currently part of their climatic niche. This could trigger changes in their distribution and disturbances in interspecific relations, in the provision of ecosystem services associated with those species. Changes in seasonality and the increase in frequency and magnitude of extreme temperature and precipitation events related to climate change were confirmed to have the greatest impacts on the biome’s biodiversity. In terms of ecologic risk of anthropogenic origin, we found that the most negative transformation drivers for the Amazon ecosystems are deforestation, expansion of the surface and intensity of areas destined for agriculture and livestock, mining activities and road building. With respect to protected areas, 36 are facing a very high level of risk, and 76, a high level of risk.


We studied the role of protected areas as elements required for enhancing resilience in the biome, from a regional perspective. Our results support the premise that Amazon protected areas can play an important role in mitigating the impact of climate change and in reducing climate-related risks to the biodiversity of the biome. We found, for example, that there is a greater carbon content per hectare in protected areas in all Amazon countries and that stability in carbon content is greater in areas of the biome that have a greater percentage of area being protected, in spite of the presence of strong anthropogenic pressures. The presence of protected areas also mitigates the impacts of extreme climate events by maintaining water yield levels during periods of drought and other instances of intense variability. Specifically, we noticed that watersheds with less than 50% of their surface within protected areas tend to exhibit more discharge extreme events. Additionally, we found that the presence of protected areas is linked to a reduction of 21.43% in the climate risk index. However, in terms of provision of habitats for the species in the context of climate change, existing protected areas in the biome are not sufficient for guaranteeing zones that mitigate the impact of climate change for the species included in the analysis.


As part of the Amazon Vision initiative, priority conservation areas were identified using systematic conservation planning tools based in the principles of representation, irreplaceability, functionality, flexibility, vulnerability and connectivity. The portfolio incorporates areas that meet the targets defined for more than 800 conservation targets at areas with the lowest environmental cost. The degree of priority is ranked by the degree of coincidence of partial results that took into account anthropic pressures, climate change and the presence of key ecosystem services such as carbon storage and water yield. 56% of indigenous territories areas lie within ecological conservation priorities, which indicates the need to search for complementary conservation strategies, that highlight the cultural values of these areas, jointly with the other criteria used during the prioritization, as the provision of ecosystem services, higher attributes to face the impacts of climate change and the direct anthropogenic pressures.


Download Amazon Biome Vulnerability Analysis

Download Amazon Conservation Opportunities Atlas

Visit the ArcGIS online Story map

Visit the ArcGIS online Geovisor



2017 Esri UC Map Gallery


Johanna presented the "Amazon Biome Conservation Opportunities under Climate Change Cosiderations" at that year's Esri UC, where she won an award for the Best Atlas or Map Series at the Map Gallery event. 



Photos - Left: Esri UC 2017 Closing ceremony and Map Gallery Awards - Right: Johanna and Jack Dangermond at Esri UC 2017 Closing ceremony




History of your personal work in conservation and GIS:loading....
I majored in Biology in 2005. At the time, my main research focus was on coastal and marine sciences. Afterwards, I started learning GIS during my Master’s, where my main goal was to deliver a geomorphological map of the Urabá coastal region (northwestern Colombia), extending over 75.000 ha. This information constituted a very important baseline for tracking geodynamical changes related to exposure to coastal erosion, as this is one of my country’s most affected areas by this phenomenon. In the meantime, I also worked as a lecturer at the Antioquia, EAFIT and CES Universities, teaching several subjects, such as oceanography, climatology, geology, and GIS, among others. I also started doing consultancy assessing coastal vulnerability and developing 3D digital elevation models for sustainable infrastructure projects and research. 


(Photos - Left: free diving to maintain an underwater echosounder sensor - Right1: Scuba diving for coral reef disease monitoring - Right 2: Discussing marine charts at an oceanographic research cruise)





















What is special about your work? 
loading....My work is unique in many ways. I do not stick to just making maps, but I try translate and complement them with useful information for decision makers and stakeholders through charts and infographics. My diverse background also allows me to be able to integrate a lot of information from different disciplines. I am very systematic and creative in my work, too. I like to think about data visualization as both science and art, which allows me to exercise both sides of my brain. These skills were put to the test in my last completed project, the Amazon Biome Vulnerability analysis. You may find an example of my approach to data analysis in the publication of an atlas, containing all the spatial information used within the analysis on this link


WHY are you interested in SCGIS?

I heard from my colleagues at WWF about the SCGIS Global Scholarship Program, as being the most prestigious in the GIS realm. These are exciting days indeed, where technology is now able to leap in a matter of days, and thus you have got to stay on top of your game. I think the whole program, including the training module and the attendance to both conferences, is a one in a lifetime opportunity to gather new knowledge, to learn about new techniques, procedures, data source, and so on, not to mention the opportunity to meet people from all over the world who share many of my own interests. These kind of experiences are mind-openers, which allow me to be more efficient and creative, to be also able to think outside the box, so than I can face challenges and solve problems with more ease, and deliver higher-quality products.