When it comes to climate change and environment, schools in Kolkata and Hyderabad showed the maximum willingness to document urban biodiversity.
These schools have come forward to observe nature and develop a strong database of the changing trends using mobile apps for climate change, catching the changing biodiversity.
About 10 Kolkata schools presented their findings just by using Android apps meant for mapping trees, butterflies and birds.
The iTrees, iBirds and iButterflies mobile apps for Citizen Science Initiative was developed by Mumbai-based Ladybird Sustainability Consulting with WWF and implemented in Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad besides Kolkata.
“In terms of recording biodiversity, schools in Kolkata and Hyderabad took the lead. The schools in these cities were more willing to use technology for documenting changes in urban areas,” said V. Shubhalaxmi, director of LSC and one of the founders of the apps.
Shubhalaxmi, a Fulbright fellow, said a total of 2,771 species were spotted by the participating schools through the freely downloadable and offline apps which can identify 50 species each of trees, birds and butterflies that are commonly found in urban areas.
Many of these students went beyond expectations to document more varieties than the 150 available in the database. “This can be done by clicking the picture and sending it to us. A group of scientists will identify the species and send the information,” she said. This they achieved dspite severe restrictions on mobile phone use in schools.
Swaranika Samanta, a class 9 student of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Fort William, said their team of six had scouted for these birds in places like a cemetery, the Botanical Gardens in Shibpur and other suburbs, to collect more data.
“We have a variety of plants, trees and butterflies and birds in our school itself. But we had to make sure of complying with school norms because of earlier incidents of misuse,” Samanta said highlighting how technology helped them hooked onto tracking nature.
Saswati Sen, state director of WWF-India, said these mobile apps are a boon as they combine technology and academics.
“Usually students are too busy with their curriculum to notice what is changing in the surroundings. Technology can help foster interest since they are usually into mobile phones and gadgets,” Sen said.
In all, 43 schools participated from 4 cities and Kolkata and Hyderabad excelled in their collection. The report will be released in June, said WWF India.
(With inputs from IANS)