Feb. 23-28, 2014 was National Invasive Species Awareness Week .
Sadly, due to cuts in funding, many programs that have been documenting the spread of non-native plants and animals have had to look elsewhere manpower. Audubon members are in a unique position to help. They are observant, spend considerable time outdoors both close to home and away, and are generally knowledgeable about plants, wildlife and of course birds. Who better to notice unwanted visitors, expanding ranges of established species and new arrivals? But then what?
There is a website dedicated to training and tracking non-natives that is complete with materials and certifications. There is an app called “Ivegot1” available for both Android and I-phones that can be used in the field. Snap a photo and send it to the data center along with some notes and voila!
It seems simple enough but according to a recent survey Audubon members as a whole are not doing it. Why? Awareness.
When over 50% of Florida’s Chapter Presidents completed a short survey developed by Audubon staff results were mixed. Some did not understand the importance of tracking the movement of non-natives. Others felt they did not have the capacity (manpower and time) to take on additional projects. But the most common response was they did not know about available online resources and tools that could be used in the field during the many outings they plan throughout the year.
As a result the Chapters Committee has planned to include a workshop at the upcoming Audubon Academy April 11-13 called Apps, apps and more apps. Participants will be asked to bring their smart phones, download apps and practice using them. In addition, all members will be encouraged to become REDDY certified online. (We might even launch a contest for the chapters with the most certified members.)
Although The National Invasive Species Awareness Week highlights a week, the problems relating to non-native species exist throughout the year. Audubon’s capacity through regular chapter activities is a natural fit with these important programs. We look forward to sharing this fun technology with all while providing valuable data as citizen scientists.