Thursday, 24 February 2011

SeasonWatch India. Tree Lovers - Join In and Contribute

Most if not all of us have trees right by our houses or work places...we see them everyday, we notice them when they flower, we pick their fruits...we are involved with them without really recording the specifics....our observations go unrecorded and are soon forgotten.Those of you who have tried to gather  information about trees and have trawled the internet looking for that specific bit of information like the duration of fruiting or the flowering period, will know that it isn't easy to find at all.
  Now, you have a chance to participate in a project which could change all that... Here is an opportunity for you, not just to take your observations more seriously, but also make that information available to the nature community at large. Here is Seasonwatch .
This project might just do for trees what bird watching has done for birds. i.e collection of information by the common man and raising awareness and interest in trees, with a final result being a fantastic database for all tree related information.

SeasonWatch is run by the Citizen Science Programme at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, with support from Wipro Applying Thought In Schools.
Joining Seasonwatch is easy, and anyone can do so... absolutely no expertise is needed. All one requires is an interest in nature, and a willingness to participate.
Register here for Seasonwatch. Choose a tree that you will have access to. Try and identify the tree. Seasonwatch website has a page with photographs of common trees, they also plan to start an online tool for people to identfy trees based on characteristics of its leaves, flowers, fruits etc.

Once Identified, more information such as the location of the tree, its height and girth etc are recorded, and you are good to go!

You then record the phenology of the tree such as the presence and numbers of leaves, fruits and flowers. Only approximate quantities are required and values are recorded as - "None", "Few", "Many" or "Dont Know" 

It is recommended that you do a recording once every week on the same day of the week.
Other information such as the birds, insects or other creatures (including humans) that might be using the tree in any way (e.g. drinking nectar, eating fruits, collecting leaves and so on) at the time of observation can also be recorded.
If all goes well and you continue to record data, you will soon generate a profile for you tree which could look like this:
..and I suppose each tree will soon have a combine profile from multiple people. 
Coming from a scientific background, I can grasp the enormity of data that this project will throw up. If carried out well, we could soon have a fantastic resource for not just for the scientif community but for the common nature enthusiast as well. I have seen projects of this kind work well for birds in the UK, but this will be the first of its kind in India and I am glad it is finally happening. I hope such projects will also be setup for the birdwatchers in India too.
I wish Seasonwatch great success, and I hope some of the readers of this blog will be inspired to join in too.