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Biodiversity without Boundaries

Yogani Govender

Manager

Science, Education and Public Policy Division

Para la Naturaleza

 

A day of transformation, while citizen science is not new to Para la Naturaleza, for some members of the Nature Serve Network it created uncertainty about the role of the field biologist and the quality of the data collected through citizen science projects. However, through communication and engagement in small groups  to share our experiences of how citizen science projects have improved data collection and reporting, Nature Serve members were reassured that adopting citizen science for data collection is a good thing. The presentation of iNaturalist a social network to help citizen scientist identify species and keep records of where species are, further convinced member organization to consider adopting the citizen science model. Like PLN the greatest concern is publishing spatial data of endangered species. iNaturalist however obscures these GPS points if the project manager is able to provide biotics information on the ranking of species. The launch of the citizen science model to collect species distribution data was successful however there still remains to design and plan individual citizen science projects among the various members organizations.

Boisterous chatter and thoughtful discussion starts today in the Biodiversity without Boundaries Conference hosted by the Nature Serve at New Orleans. Nature Serve the winner of the Macarthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions,  have brought together 87 organsitations to share ideas and develop new strategies on conservation across boundaries.

Robert Barham the secretary of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in his welcome speech stressed the importance of effective conservation and highlighted that LDWF has worked tirelessly to improve populations of the brown pelican, alligators and they are  currenlty working with reintroducing the whooping crane and  rehabilitation of the cajun parie.

Sustainability, adaptation, citizen science and designing,  guiding and development of strategic conservation are some of the themes to look forward to in the next few days in the conference.

Citizen Science becomes a new strategy  for Nature Serve Network to promote documenting and digitizing new species data around the world. The Nature Serve is investigating how to expand existing citizen science projects for effective conservation. During the workshops today researchers and field biologist are engaging in addressing challenges to setting up citizen science projects. The workshop focuses on data standards, tools and process of observations that integrate into data management programs such as Biotics. Visualization of citizen science data is critical to fully engage citizen scientist. The challenge is to communicate to citizen scientist on how the data they collected is being used to understand trends and changes. Targeting citizen scientist to look for endangered species may help to develop complete distribution of species and therefore develop effective conservation strategies.

Be proactive with conservation planning is the message from today’s talks at Biodiversity without Borders Conference. Having a conservation priority map or model is power for conservation groups that have to go up against federal, state and local programs that promote development within areas of high conservation value. The most effective ways to change mindsets is to be proactive and present your models and maps to these agencies before they start planning their roads, railways and bridges. The Department of Transportation, for example takes about 13 years to build a roads because they are constantly faced with organizations that object to the road design because of the irreversible impacts in high conservation areas. The message is provide them ahead of time the information you have about sensitive areas for endangered species.  Using priority conservation models as an education tool is the way to be proactive in protecting our important conservation areas!