Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, EAD, has launched a new smartphone application which allows users to enjoy the best of Abu Dhabi's rich biodiversity by documenting wildlife and plants found in the city.
The 'Collector for ArcGIS' app includes information which has been gathered by EAD over the past few years as part of its efforts to protect the Emirates' biodiversity. The agency has also been surveying plants and animals across the city and the findings are being used to better account for, plan, preserve and manage Abu Dhabi's biodiversity.
The use of modern technology such as the Geographic Information System, GIS, has been an integral part of EAD's work since its inception. Back in 1994, researchers began using GIS technology for wildlife conservation and environmental protection at the National Avian Research Centre, and EAD invested in GIS technologies to track endangered species in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in various fields.
Khansa Al Blouki, Section Manager, Environmentally Sustainable Communities and Living, Environmental Information, Science and Outreach Management, said, "With this initiative, we aim to increase public participation and engagement in preserving our natural heritage. Besides being a mapping exercise, this app will provide a platform for the public to showcase their passion for the rich biodiversity that we are privileged to have in our emirate."
By downloading the app, which is available on smartphones for free, including iPhone or Android, the public can take pictures of animals and plants which then get translated into a graphic representation on a map using GIS. This data is then fed into a centralised database that gets updated in real-time.
Al Blouki added, "We are glad to invite the general public, wherever they live or travel in Abu Dhabi, to use this application to report on plants or animals that they may spot, especially if they look unusual to them. They don't have to know what they are called, all they need to do is to send a photo and our experts can identify them, they might even come across a species that is new to science."