Nature Conservation Margaret River unveils new app to help citizen scientists protect biodiversity from weeds

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Nature Conservation officers Obelia Walker and Peta Lierich with the new app.
Camera IconNature Conservation officers Obelia Walker and Peta Lierich with the new app. Credit: Trevor Paddenburg

Property owners and people concerned with the environment now can access a handy tool on their phones.

Nature Conservation Margaret River Region has launched a new mobile phone app as part of its drive to see more residents act as custodians for the region’s precious environment.

The Fieldbook app helps users act as citizen scientists for the sake of protecting the region’s biodiversity, allowing users to record and log targeted invasive weed species anywhere they are found. Thirteen of the region’s most pernicious pests are included in the register.

Biodiversity officer Peta Lierich said the development of the app reflected the conservation group’s growing concern about weeds and non-native tree species affecting the natural balance.

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“We’re really excited,” she said.

“The Fieldbook app will enable us to get weed mapping data across the whole region that will lead to good decision making and priority setting, and assist with long-term monitoring.

“An easily accessible app being used by many people means rapid detection of invasive species infestations when they’re small and can be more easily tackled.”

The launch of the app coincides with a series of free community workshops over the next few months to teach residents how to identify some of the more common weeds and what to do about them.

Some community groups were already onto the app, with the Friends of Barrett Street Reserve and the Friends of Wooditjup Bilya logging weed sightings through Fieldbook, while operators including Cape-to-Cape Explorer Tours and the Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association’s Capes Foundation also getting in on the act.

Ms Lierich urged residents to download and install the app to join local conservation efforts.

“The app is an important tool to engage our community, generating interest and encouraging involvement in conservation,” she said.

Ms Lierich said the data would help Nature Conservation prioritise its own efforts as well as make the case in detailed funding submissions.

“It will help us argue the case for environmental weed control on public land and lobby government departments to take responsibility, and it will provide these organisations with a valuable resource for priority setting and monitoring,” she said.

“It’ll also help with discussions with politicians and decision-makers,” the officer said.

“With our environment facing threats on all fronts and climate change starting to take a toll, there has never been a more important time to get involved with local, hands-on conservation like downloading this app, learning to identify weedy species, and uploading the info via the app.”

Visit www.natureconservation.org.au for more information and a Fieldbook user guide.

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