Help to cure sick trees with the app Forest112
An innovative citizen science project for fighting pests, diseases and invasive species of European forests. Citizens can help experts in the field work, to undertake actions and investigations, impossible without the cooperation of citizens.
Source: Android description (translated)
Download: Android 2.1 (36MB) / iOS 7.1 (10.2MB)
Language: English / Spanish
Runs offline: partially
Last update: Android 17/03/2016 – iOS 22/03/2016
Website of the developer: Irdetec Consulting y Asesoría
Forest112 is a citizen science project at European level built under the FIWARE Acceleration Programme. Its main objective is to create a network of volunteers who collaborate with the scientific community and public administrations in collecting data on sick trees, forest health or spread of invasive species as harmful as the Asian hornet, which is causing significant losses for the apiculture sector. With this information, it might study the behavior or conditions of spread of pests and diseases, anticipating possible outbreaks and establishing appropriate protection strategies, both in forest ecosystems as in gardens or tree crops (olive trees, fruit trees, etc.).
The application has the following options, accessible both from the homepage as from a lateral menu (stacked bars icon):
- “Report”, registry option that includes fields such as GPS location, pest, disease or invasive species identified, images, damage and type of tree, etc. It must also be noted the level of knowledge of volunteers for the validation of the reports.
- “Identification”, tab that includes the following subcategories (on the homepage are displayed individually): Signs and symptoms, with a table for identification of infectious agents; pests, which includes a list in which species are linked to image galleries on the Internet; pathogens, incorporating a small data sheet for each of the diseases under analysis; and invasive, with additional information via Global Invasive Species Database.
- “My reports”, category in which the pending and sent reports can be displayed and consulted.
- “Alerts”, section where notifications of pests and diseases that are having a strong impact on forest ecosystems or related sectors are published. The information specifies the species, its common name, geographic area being particularly affected, the start date of the alert and an estimated end date.
- “Help”, with explanations about the tool.
- “Who”, section that includes the European administrations and programs in which this project is framed. From this section you can also register as a user of the application, linking different mobile devices under the same user (eg, a public administration or a university).
The application also has a section of favorites (star icon) that allows quick access to insects or common diseases, as well as a second menu (envelope icon) where you can change the language of the application, register, download your reports or view them on Google Maps.
In addition to the mobile application, this initiative will have two web platforms (currently in demo version). One will be aimed to the researchers and will collect data gathered by volunteers, established alerts, etc., while the other will be oriented to volunteers that collaborate with the project and will incorporate a space of e-learning in which online training about diseases and forest pests will be taught. This platform will also have resources to consult information on this topic.
People as fieldworkers. An ICT platform for crowdsourced forest management
Images: Screenshots 25/04/2016. © Indertec Consulting y Asesoría
The existence of sick trees affected by pests or diseases or areas with presence of invasive species is a change in the dynamics of forest ecosystems, gardens or cultivated areas, that may cause serious damage which can result in the loss of large forest areas with the environmental impact that this circumstance causes (high risk of erosion, less absorptive capacity and regulation of rainfalls, etc.). These are also damages whose consequences can be potentiated by phenomena such as climate change, as, for example, the U.S. Forest Service evinces in its web, because climate modifications can stress trees making them more vulnerable.
The citizen science can be a useful tool to report this kind of impacts and it’s the basis on which the Forest112 project is based, pioneering in the forestry sector and which pursues to create an application capable of register the evils that affect European forests (the idea is to customize the app for pests and diseases specific to each region). The two web platforms oriented to research and training will add value to the initiative, being able to become in interesting scientific and environmental education resources. Also highlight the section of alerts that incorporates the application. Regarding possible improvements, although the app is simple to operate, the existence of two menus is confusing. It would also be recommended to include a search box of species.