What is TerraCount?
TerraCount is a scenario planning tool for cities, counties, districts, and other land use planners and decision-makers. TerraCount models the greenhouse gas (GHG) and natural resource implications of different development patterns and management activities. TerraCount allows planners to evaluate the application of management activities including agricultural activities such as cover cropping, restoration activities such as riparian restoration, and avoided conversion such as avoided conversion of agricultural land to development. TerraCount provides reporting for how these activities affect a suite of co-benefits. On this site, you can browse outputs from several pre-run scenarios of TerraCount including the activities and co-benefits used to generate them.

As an example, using TerraCount, this site showcases the results from modeling future landcover change scenarios and applying agricultural and environmental activities to Merced County, CA.

TerraCount was developed by the Department of Conservation and The Nature Conservancy in collaboration with Merced County. For additional information about TerraCount and this project, download the report below. To run the tool yourself (requires ArcGIS), visit the downloads page to access the GIS tool, sample data, and appendices.
What is TerraCount based on?
TerraCount's data foundation is a greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory of carbon stored in vegetation and soil. The inventory also accounts for GHG emissions of methane and nitrous oxide. The inventory tracks Merced's biological carbon for 2001 to 2014, and uses the 2001-2014 trend in GHG and land cover change to create a 2030 estimate of biological carbon.
Modeled Carbon Stocks by Land Cover Class in 2001, 2014, with Predicted Stocks in 2030*
More About the Project
The TerraCount tool is part of a 2 year project that also includes a countywide accounting framework, carbon and GHG inventory, and a implementation guide for Merced and other counties can utilize the Merced work and reproduce it in other California Counties. The TerraCount tool and the other elements of this project will be used to inform Merced county's climate action plan.
Project Collaborators
This project is a collaborative effort involving the California Department of Conservation, The Nature Conservancy, Merced County Community and Economic Development Department, The Climate Action Reserve, East Merced Resource Conservation District, Colorado State University Natural Resource Ecology Lab and several scientific consultants. It will also be informed by two advisory committees, one comprised of state agencies and a second comprised of local stakeholders, academics and non-governmental organizations.
definition,social, economic and environmental benefits achieved by applying specific land management activities.
Agriculture Quality
Water Quality
Human Wellbeing
Ag Land Quality
What is it?
Agricultural land quality is an important benefit in Merced County, which like many Central Valley counties relies on agriculture for its economic viability. Merced county planners are faced with the challenge of balancing the need for development to support a growing population with the conservation of high value agricultural lands. The tool tracks losses in important farmland for scenarios where land is converted from agriculture to a developed land use.
2014 Important Farmland
Metric: Tool reports on hectares of important farmland converted from ag to urban between '14 and '30 in the following classes: Prime farmland, unique farmland, farmland of statewide importance, and farmland of local importance.
Data Sources: California Department of Conservation's Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program (FMMP)
2014-2030 Projected Conversion of Important Farmland to Development
Go to this Activity
FMMP Farmland Finder
definition,land management practices that change the trajectory of future biological carbon sequestration and effect social and environmental benefits.
Working Lands
Natural Lands
Nitrogen Fertilizer Managment:
What is it?
Image Credit:
Improved nitrogen fertilizer management results from managing the amount (rate), source, placement (method of application), and timing of plant nutrients and soil amendments. The activity results in GHG reductions because N2O emmissions are reduced.
...in Merced County
In Merced County, the scenario planning tool offers the option to apply improved nitrogen fertilizer management on orchards, annual croplands, rice, and vineyards.
Potential GHG Reductions
Potential GHG Reductions in Merced County
Activity Benefits on [Select →]
Go to this Co-benefit