The Information Highway provides information collected and disseminated by researchers and agencies for the public use. The public, however, should be allowed to provide their information to the researchers and agencies.
The opportunity to make a difference and provide data to a program that cares, has created a growing number of citizens involved in the activity of science, and through the information infrastructure has made them part of a team.
There are over 200 watershed projects occurring in Washington State, 20,000 people collecting water quality information, weekly field trips organized by local Audubon chapters, individuals enhancing their yards to attract wildlife, wetlands and stream restoration projects, and communities preserving the land that is important to them. With or without the help of researchers and natural resource professionals, these projects are taking place. Their data have been used locally, but should be added to broad-based statewide datasets to map biodiversity in a way not otherwise achievable. The involvement of portions of the community that otherwise are excluded from collection, analysis, and debate on the issues affecting everyone in the community is critical to the success of The NatureMapping
NatureMapping workshops, educational materials, and contact with hard to reach professionals provide the training for consistent data collection and reporting. Inconsistent terminology used by researchers and agencies is a frustration to the public. Simplifying the terminology is not the answer; providing good and consistent definitions are.
To prepare for the future, we must look into the future. The Gap Analysis Project creates a report card of biodiversity for each state, based on indicators such as habitats, wildlife and land use. NatureMapping helps communities assess their biodiversity by reviewing their portion of the report card. Additional biodiversity data gathering can become a community resource for understanding the environment in which the community lives, and empowers citizens to plan for the future.
Last modified: 10/27/97