Friends of the Rainforest—which educates and inspires children and adults to protect, support, and expand the rainforest—recently introduced a new app that enables students to gather data and share discoveries about specific plants and animal species when walking on rainforest trails. The nonprofit developed the app with the assistance of Natural Solutions Costa Rica’s Jeff Norris and Amy Work, GIS Librarian at the University of California, San Diego. The Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) Biodiversity app is a geographic information system (GIS) application adapted from Esri’s Survey123 platform.
The CER Biodiversity app records the observation’s primary classification and date, the rainforest station and trail, time and weather conditions, and more. The app even allows students to attach a photograph or sound file if these are captured. Part of the Esri Geospatial Cloud, Survey123 for ArcGIS is a solution for creating and sharing surveys where location is a key variable of interest. Data collection takes place via a field application that works on mobile devices, even when the internet or cell service is unavailable.
The new app can be installed on smartphones or tablets that students carry during their field work. The nonprofit plans to share its group’s observations via publicly accessible maps, as well as potentially generate a separate platform for maintenance and protection workers to help with their protection of nearly 90 square miles of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest.
“This is a ground-breaking addition to our hands-on rainforest program,” said Friends of the Rainforest Executive Director Chelsea Raiche. “Students can document and share their data findings with others to create a more insightful look into the rainforest communities. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.” Raiche added that “since there is no baseline data for this rainforest area, we want everyone’s help to fill an important gap. We will rely on students plus participants of our ‘legacy’ trips (for parents and grandparents who want to instill in their children and grandchildren the importance of caring for nature) to help us with our mapping.”
Founded in 2002, Friends of the Rainforest is the only non-profit organization in the U.S. to combine free worldwide education outreach along with rainforest conservation grants and experiential hands-on ecotours. The agency partners primarily with Children’s Eternal Rainforest—Costa Rica’s largest private forest reserve that encompasses more than 56,000 acres—in an effort to protect the land along with all of its plant and animal inhabitants. Friends of the Rainforest is headquartered in St. Louis, Mo. at 930 Kehrs Mill Rd. For more information, call (314) 941-1257 or visit www.friendsoftherainforest.org.
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