Invasive Species App
Invasive species of plants taking over land is a huge environmental problem facing many local authorities all over Ireland and beyond. Some plants can damage built infrastructure as well as wipe out native flora and fauna.
A mobile phone application called ‘Report Invasive Plants’ was developed to address the issue by informing citizens and facilitating easy reporting of this phenomenon. The app was inspired by a pilot project set up to examine the river Loobagh in County Limerick in 2015, according to Anne Goggin, Senior Executive Engineer with Limerick City and County Council. The council collaborated with State forestry body—Coillte— farmers, community groups, local development companies and fisheries experts to progress the app. The resulting platform allows users to take/upload a photograph and embed GPS coordinates of the location. The council verifies if the plant is an invasive species and if so, it will appear on the app’s mapping function, with locations presented as open data in the Insight Limerick Service, as well as being fed into a central national biodiversity database.
Ms. Goggin added that the app is an easy way for “tidy-towns groups, anglers and anybody [from anywhere in Ireland] who has an interest in capturing the data” to submit it. It not only contributes to Irish and international knowledge on the subject but from an official point of view, the location and spread of these plants can be tracked and dealt with appropriately.
The next phase of the project will involve the development of a website that will allow users to download the data as open data.
Photo: The “Report Invasive Plants” app allows local communities (through data crowdsourcing) to indicate locations where invasive species of plants have taken over river banks, roads or lands.