Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (2011)

Regional Flora Database

Project Details

Grant Amount: $199,983
Contact: Patricia Paranagu
Contact Email: paranagua 'atsign'
Funding Dates: 7/1/11 - 9/30/13

UPDATE: JRS awarded follow-up grant to continue the work of the project. Please click here to view. 

Backgroundipe logo

The Atlantic Forest is a highly threatened biome, with only 10% remaining of its original coverage. Forest restoration is crucial to recover biodiversity and landscape connectivity.  The majority of restoration projects have low floristic diversity, with predominance of pioneer species, compromising forest survivorship. Furthermore, the species used in restoration often differ from the local flora. Therefore, it is necessary to improve knowledge of regional species for stimulating their uses in seedling production.

Key Objectives and Activities

This project aims at stimulating decision makers’ interest in local flora through a combination of information on native vegetation and history of the use of culturally relevant botanical species. During two years IPE collected and organized information through a database publicly available on the web to encourage diversification of species in restoration initiatives and research on understudied species. Now IPE needs to capitalize on the opportunities to use the system by nursery producers, government agents and educators. Therefore the objectives of this second phase of the project are:

  • To disseminate the usefulness of the system.
  • To provide capacity building for potential users.
  • To produce publications for disseminating the project experiences.
  • To ensure that other software applications can easily integrate species data available in the system.

Planned Outputs and Outcomes

We consider four important outcomes to be expected: i) Professors adopting the information system in the educational agendas; ii) Nursery producers diversifying the species composition; iii) Local government agents and other institutions consulting the system for purposes of policy; iv) Institutional network strengthened, with an intense consultation of our database.

Primary Software Platforms

IPE recommends using free and open source software as much as possible, also releasing new code under the same conditions. Here’s what this project used:

  • Programming language: Python
  • Framework: Django
  • Relational database: PostgreSQL
  • Software repository: GitHub

Results to Date

A novel approach was developed to integrate very diverse data in a way to facilitate decision-making processes related to forest restoration. Besides the creation of the database, collecting and inputting data about 160 native tree species, the project has generated substantial complementary outcomes such as:

  • One M.Sc. thesis about local knowledge of vegetation and their uses
  • Two presentations at conferences about environmental history and education
  • 23 nursery producers trained on accessing the database
  • Field expeditions and classes about vegetation, involving 30 teachers and 250 students (the system is able to reach 2,000 students per year)
  • Partnership with IPEF (Forest Research Institute) for incorporating the project’s information system into the Official Forest Program for the Government of São Paulo State
  • Additional financial support obtained for pilot implementation of forest restoration projects using the database

Lessons Learned

1. It is perfectly possible to develop information systems based on the integration of scientific information with knowledge from local residents for biodiversity conservation purposes. Furthermore, it became clear for the researchers of this project that this approach can be adopted in other regions and initiatives.

2. In terms of technology, this project faced problems by trying to make the new system to look like as part of an existing web site. The new system developed in this project and the institutional web site are actually two separate things, hosted separately and managed separately, but they share the same look & feel. This means that whenever the design, menu, links or other important parts of the institutional website change, it also needs to be changed in the new system. This can easily become a nightmare, so new systems were recommended  to avoid as much as possible this situation.

Last Updated: February 28th, 2017

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