SANBI launches iSpot southern Africa
iSpot is an online biodiversity application where all citizens, from taxonomists to the domestic gardener, can participate in biodiversity recording, monitoring and identification. Says Carmel Mbizvo, Head of Biodiversity Research and Knowledge Management, SANBI, “It is vital for us to include all citizens within the science of nature and to democratise biodiversity,” iSpot forms part of a suite of initiatives involving citizens in biodiversity science. iSpot is unique in that it encompasses all biodiversity and other iSpot users identify and verify observations.
iSpot is a buzzing space on the web where all nature enthusiasts can share their knowledge and help each other identify species from the vast array of plant life to retiles and coleopteran. Carmel continues, “If you can give something a name, it becomes meaningful to individuals, and in this way iSpot will be able to make nature meaningful to southern Africa citizens.” iSpot is user-driven and provides a fun way to progress from being a novice in species identification to a learned expert. The site is also linked to the Encyclopaedia of Life and the SANBI Red List of Plants.
Since SANBI released iSpot for testing in March last year, the site has already gained over 750 registered users who have submitted over 15 000 observations (species records), 30 000 pictures in the Virtual Museum and 20 000 agreements (confirmations of ID), all solutions provided by iSpot’s users. Excitingly, presumed extinct species have already been discovered as well as a useful range of specie extensions. New developments on the site are constantly being made- such as the interactive map function which allows users to filter observations, and the common and scientific name dictionaries.
SANBI’s vision is to see iSpot grow a new generation of biodiversity ambassadors who actively contribute to the conservation of our rich natural heritage. Visit iSpot southern Africa to find out more and begin making a difference by iSpotting.
At the iSpot BioBlitz on Thursday 14 June, BIMF participants will get directly involved in biodiversity monitoring and surveying. Scientists and members of the public will work together to survey Kenilworth Racecourse, finding, identifying and recording as many species as possible. iSpot is an easy way to assist with identifications and to showcase species found on the BioBlitz.
The Biodiversity Information Management Forum 2012, being held in Kirstenbosch from 12-13 June, explores the theme “making a difference”. SANBI and our partners generate enormous amounts of biodiversity information which SANBI makes freely available on the Biodiversity Advisor to support biodiversity management, research, policy, planning and monitoring. Are we getting it right, and is the information being used effectively?
The BIMF is the only national platform dedicated to discussing biodiversity information management issues.
Highlights of the forum include:
- A keynote addresses by Professor Jon Hutton of the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre
- The launch of the citizen science portal iSpot southern Africa
- Data fitness for use training by Arthur Chapman of the Australian Biodiversity Information Services
- Training on the Biodiversity GIS website
- Update on the UWC research hub launched by the Deputy Minister of Science and Technology
- Presentations on data application, tools and technology, monitoring, and Landuse planning
- Workshops and working sessions on interest areas