Student Work

La Plata Nature Refuge: Assessing Land Change


Downloadable Content

open in viewer

The La Plata Nature Refuge is a recreational area in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico, that includes a large reservoir and river. Over the last 5 years, this area and the greater La Plata watershed has been severely impacted by extreme weather events, caused by ongoing climate change. The organization that oversees this reservoir and refuge, the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER), has not been able to maintain accurate records of landscape change that allow for effective planning and mitigation efforts towards weather events and disasters. The goal of this project is to assess landscape changes of the La Plata Refuge and greater watershed area to provide data to inform future management plans for the DNER. To accomplish this goal, we assembled an event timeline for natural disasters in Puerto Rico from the years of 2003 to 2020 and combined this with satellite imagery of the area from Google Earth. This method created a comprehensive system to document and outline changes observed in the area over time, revealing that droughts and flooding leading to erosion and sedimentation were the greatest concern to the landscape and water levels. It was also apparent that extreme and intense events became significantly more prevalent in Puerto Rico over the past 5 years and may continue to do so. Deliverables for this project include a Google Earth file marking landscape changes throughout the watershed area, a user guide for Google Earth, an interactive Prezi timeline of natural disasters from 2003-2020, and a prototype ArcGIS file for future project development.

  • This report represents the work of one or more WPI undergraduate students submitted to the faculty as evidence of completion of a degree requirement. WPI routinely publishes these reports on its website without editorial or peer review.
Last modified
  • 2021-08-29
  • 23866
  • E-project-051121-141252
  • 2021
UN Sustainable Development Goals
Date created
  • 2021-05-11
Resource type
Rights statement


Permanent link to this page: