Citizen science project to monitor Australian plants after extreme weather events

Australia’s national science agency has launched a citizen science programme to help monitor native plants in the wake of extreme weather events.

The Atlas of Living Australia (ALA), a collaboration between the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), museums and governments, on Wednesday launched Flora Connections.

The new project aims to harness amateur botanists to monitor native flora’s recovery from bushfires and floods, Xinhua news agency reported.

Erin Roger, the Citizen Science Programme Lead for the ALA, said recent weather events were having significant impacts on important native plants.

“As extreme fires and floods become more common, plants, which are vital to keeping our ecosystems healthy, also need to recover,” she said in a media release.

“Through Flora Connections, we want to better-understand how our native plants are recovering post-fire and flood, and that means boots on the ground.

“That’s why we’re urging Australians who love getting out into nature to get involved, to help us collect the information we need while they’re exploring.”

Citizen participants in the project will be able to access information, documentation forms and data-gathering material through the Flora Connections website.

“After the information is submitted to Flora Connections, it will then be made available by the Atlas of Living Australia, our national biodiversity data infrastructure, which will be of huge value to support the science of bushfire impacts on plants,” Roger said.

It has been funded under the federal government’s A$200 million ($151.5 million) Bushfire Recovery Program for wildlife and their habitats, which is being coordinated by the ALA.

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