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 Plant Tracker app - invasive species tracking - for smartphones

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Ed Randall

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Male Posts : 3259
Join date : 2010-11-19
Age : 52
Location : Twickenham

PostSubject: Plant Tracker app - invasive species tracking - for smartphones   Thu Sep 13, 2012 11:24 am

This project was announced recently, a smartphone app which records the location and a photo of invasive species in a central database with the help of people out in the field.

I can see real potential in this application, if you have a smartphone please download it and join in, it is free! http://planttracker.naturelocator.org/

if you don't have a smartphone you can still join in if you take a photo of the plant and pinpoint the location on a map here: http://planttracker.naturelocator.org/add

Planttracker App to tackle spread of invasive plants
Project Background
The Environment Agency, the Nature Locator team at the University of Bristol and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology have joined forces to help combat the spread of the UK’s most problematic ‘invasive, non-native’ plant species by developing a new Smartphone App called ‘Planttracker’.

The first step in tackling this problem is accurately determining where these plants are. The Planttracker App has been developed to generate a comprehensive picture of the presence of INNS in the UK, enabling users to submit geo-located records of their sightings. The app contains lots of clear images of both the invasive species and any possible confusion species to help you feel confident with your identification.

What are Invasive Non Native Species (INNS) and why are they a problem?
An INNS is any non-native animal or plant that has the ability to spread causing damage to the environment, the economy, our health and the way we live. INNS pose threats to biodiversity, increase flood risk, and affect the state of our water environment. INNS cost the British economy a minimum of £2 billion per annum.

INNS can have a negative effect on water quality as they grow prolifically, smothering waterways. They can impede drainage and cause flooding, as well as out-competing other aquatic plant species.

Japanese Knotweed can grow through asphalt, contributes to river bank erosion, increasing the risk of flooding and is very difficult to get rid of. Himalayan Balsam can grow to over 2 metres high, and also damages river banks. Floating Pennywort grows on water at a rate of up to 20cm per day, and can completely smother waterbodies.

Which INNS is PlantTracker tackling?
Originally aimed at tracking 3 problem species across the Midlands, Planttracker now has 14 plants on its list and accepts records from across the UK. There are 14 Invasive Non Native Species listed on Planttracker:

Japanese Knotweed
Himalayan Balsam
Floating Pennywort
Orange Balsam
Water Fern
New Zealand Pigmyweed
Parrot's Feather
Giant Hogweed
Creeping Water-primrose
Piri-Piri Burr
American Skunk-cabbage
Rhododendron
Monkey Flower
Curly Waterweed

Why have we developed an App to tackle INNS?
Obtaining accurate data about the distribution of invasive species is very important when it comes to assessing impact and formulating a response. But data provision is often patchy and records are usually unverifiable and lacking accurate geographic reference.

The PlantTracker project has addressed these problems by combining the development of a smartphone application with the power of crowd-sourcing data collection. Critically, each record collected is verifiable since it is comprised of a photograph along with other relevant metadata. Records are also accurately geo-located since the app utilises the phone’s inbuilt GPS capabilities.

What happens to the records?
Data collected by the PlantTracker app is being verified by an ecologist within the Project Team at the University of Bristol. The verification involves checking each photo is the INNS it claims to be and approving it to be posted on the web site. The data is then stored in the “Indicia” data warehouse, hosted by the Biological Records Centre on behalf of the volunteer recording community in Great Britain. Indicia provides a facility for verifying observations submitted through the App and ensures that data is made available to the national recording scheme for vascular plants, the Botanical Society of the British Isles. For more information about Indicia see:
http://www.nbn.org.uk/Tools-Resources/Recording-Resources/Online-Recording-Toolkit.aspx
The data is also being passed through to the Biological Records Centre's new system iRecord. The goal of iRecord is to make it easier for wildlife sightings to be collated, checked by experts and made available to support research and decision-making at local and national levels.

What we are going to do with the data that is submitted via the App?
We will be able to use the information to determine the extent of the problem, find out where the worst cases are and provide evidence for Local Action Groups to develop project funding bids to tackle INNS in their communities.

Downloads of v1 & 1.1 (beginning of August 2012)
Android downloads: 220
iPhone: 230
Number of records submitted: approaching 600

How to start using Plant Tracker or Find out more information
PlantTracker is available free from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store by searching for planttracker (one word), or from the website http://planttracker.naturelocator.org/ where you can also follow the progress of the project and the reports that are coming in.
You can also follow progress on twitter using #planttracker and @envagencymids, or at www.facebook.com/naturelocator

Images of INNS are available on the GB non-native species secretariat website at:
https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/nonnativespecies/gallery/


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