Install QGIS

Before installing the toolbox, QGIS version 3.22 or higher needs to be installed on your computer.

Download QGIS

To install the plugin, first install QGIS version 3.22 or higher following the below steps:

  1. Choose either 32 or 64 bit version

    You have the option of installing a 32-bit or 64-bit version of QGIS. To know which version to install, check which type of operating system you have following the below instructions. If you are unsure which you need, try downloading the 64 bit version first. If that version doesn’t work properly, un-install it and then install the 32 bit version.

    • Windows 8 or Windows 10

      • From the “Start” screen, type “This PC”.

      • Right click (or tap and hold) “This PC”, and click “Properties”.

    • Windows 7, or Vista

      • Open “System” by clicking the “Start” button , right-clicking “Computer”, and then clicking “Properties”.

      • Under System, you can view the system type.

    • Mac: Click the Apple icon in the top left and select “About this Mac”.

  2. After determining whether you need the 32 or 64 bit version, download the appropriate installer:

Install QGIS Software

Once the installer is downloaded from the website, it needs to be run (double click on it). Select the Default settings for all options.

Installing older versions of QGIS

Older versions of QGIS can be accessed at the below links. We recommend the latest version of QGIS (see instructions above) but the below links might be useful if you have a specific need for accessing an older version of the Trends.Earth plugin (for example the QGIS2 version of the plugin).

Install toolbox (plugin)

There are different ways to install Trends.Earth, depending on whether you want to install the stable version (recommended) or the development version.

Installing the development version (advanced users)

There are two ways to install the development version of the plugin. For more details, see the README for Trends.Earth.

Setting up your data folder

  • Objective: Learn how to check the status of submitted tasks, download them and compute pyramids for faster visualization of results in QGIS.

  • Estimated time of completion: 5 minutes

  • Internet access: Required

The results of Trends.Earth analysis are rasters in TIF format for indicators and XLSX spreadsheets for the tabular outputs. You will need to define in each case where files will be stored in your computer in settings.

  1. Open settings in Trends.Earth

  1. Scroll down to Advanced options and expand to see more features.


3. The Base data directory can be set by selecting Open to open the folder where data will be stored or to change the location of data stored and downloaded from Trends.Earth.

OPTIONAL: Computing Pyramids

When the raster file is too big, due to a large study area, high spatial resolution, or a large number of bands in the file, the data could take several seconds to display. If you change the zoom or turn layers on an off frequently, this could make the work a bit frustrating. An option to overcome this is to compute Pyramids to the file. This process will take from minutes to hours to run depending on the size of the area, so make sure to have enough time for it to process. To compute pyramids you have to:

  1. Navigate with your cursor to the layer you want to compute pyramids for and right click over it. A menu will open. Navigate to Properties and click on it.


When using the Calculate all three sub-indicators in one step option (described in the tutorial Land Degradation), all the bands are stored in a single TIF file, so even though you see three layers loaded in the QGIS window, they all refer to the same file. This means that the pyramids need to be computed only once for the three sub-indicators.

  1. The Layer Properties menu will open. From the options on the left, navigate to Pyramids and click on it.

  1. Once on the Pyramids tab you will see a description about they are.

  1. To the right of the window you will see the Resolutions options. Selecting all of them will make displaying in QGIS the fastest, but this could take hours to compute depending on the file size and processing capabilities of the computer you are using. For the Uganda example, we can select them all, but if using a larger area or higher spatial resolution than the default 250m, we recommend you select alternating resolutions options (i.e. one resolution selected and one not selected, and so on). Resolutions are selected by clicking on them. When selected, they will turn blue.

Make sure that the settings at the bottom are set to:

  • Overview format: External

  • Resampling method: Nearest Neighbour

  1. Then click on the Build pyramids button. The progress bar next to it will show which percentage of the task has been completed.

  1. When pyramids have been built you will notice that the icons next to the resolutions will have changed from red crosses to yellow pyramids.

  1. Click OK to go back to the QGIS main interface.

Adding a basemap

Basemaps are very useful as a reference for identifying specific locations in maps. When downloaded, Trends.Earth results are displayed on an empty QGIS project, which could limit the user ability for identifying know places in the landscape. To facilitate this process, you can use the Add Basemap tool which will load country and state boundaries, roads, rivers, cities, coastlines and water bodies with labels to the QGIS project.

  1. To load the tool click on the Datasets tab and select Load Base Map in the bottom right of the window.

  1. On the Add basemap window you can do one of two things:

  • Use a mask option selected will create a mask blocking all the information outside of the selected area. In this example, all the information outside of Uganda will not be displayed on the map. This option is useful when displaying the sub-indicators downloaded from Trends.Earth, since the data download is not clipped to administrative boundaries (a bounding box is used instead). You can use first and second level administrative boundaries.

  • Use a mask option not selected will load all the reference information, but no mask will be applied.

  1. Once the basemap is loaded, you will notice the information added to the map and to the Layer panel. The basemap has information for:

  • Lake

  • River

  • Coastline

  • City

  • Disputed border

  • Subnational border

  • National border

  • Ocean