» Terratruth Ecotrust Canada
The Supreme Court of Canada has affirmed that the Title and Rights of Aboriginal people must be accommodated in development on the land. A system of referrals has been established to facilitate this. Terratruth is a unique tool that simplifies the referrals process for busy and underfunded Aboriginal communities.

Terratruth is an online tool that supports Indigenous communities in their efforts to track and evaluate the impacts of proposed land and water use in their territories. This secure site has controlled access to prevent unauthorized viewing and use of sensitive local knowledge.

Developed by Ecotrust Canada’s Knowledge Systems team, the first phase of this tool was developed in partnership with the Lil’wat and Haida Nations, and partially funded by GeoConnections Canada. Additional enhancements were funded by the Okanagan Nation Alliance.

Objective /

Terratruth supports communities in making decisions around land and water use by enabling information sharing related to their territories. The tool is easily accessible by multiple non-technical users in standard web browsers.

How it works /

Formerly known as the AMN Decision Support System, Terratruth is a data-driven tool, providing users with the means to assess the impact of a proposed land use activity using existing data in their region/territory. This is done using one of the following methods:

  • creating the shape by manually drawing it in the application;
  • uploading an existing shape (in ESRI format); or
  • uploading a scanned image, geo-referencing/rectifying that image, then manually digitizing the shape.

Once a shape has been created, it is shown on a map alongside existing data. An automatic report can calculate the exact amount of area that is impacted, based on customized questions corresponding to each data layer. The results can be used within an overall decision process to assess the value and/or impact of the proposed activity.

Terratruth requires user authentication for access to the site. This ensures all data and sensitive local information remains protected. Other features include:

  • Data encryption – Terratruth employs Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to encrypt data and provide communication security while online;
  • Customizable reporting;
  • Image rectification (i.e. rubber sheeting) – allows users to merge images taken from multiple perspectives into a common map coordinate system, particularly useful for including old, traditional maps in modern GIS format;
  • ESRI Shapefile upload or creation to
    spatially describe geometries;
  • Metadata management;
  • Place names and historical documents;
  • GIS shape export to Google Earth for further visualization.

The technology/

All components are built with open source software to ensure low development and implementation costs. Open source software is computer software available in source code form for which the source code and certain other rights normally reserved for copyright holders are provided under a software license that permits users to study, change, and improve it.

Open source software used in Terratruth includes:

  • Django Web Development Framework
  • Postgres/PostGIS relational database
  • OpenLayers – a JavaScript library for displaying map data in web browsers
  • MapServer – Spatial data visualization
  • ExtJS – User interface widgets

Projects /

  • The Northeast Superior Forest Community in Ontario deployed Terratruth as part of their efforts to improve visualization of data, and support their alternative forest management processes.