How does Pl@ntNet help the Lewa WildLife Conservatory to fight against invasive species?

The Lewa Wildlife Conservatory, in northern Kenya, is a successful conservation model that has been balancing tourism and natural resource protection for several decades. Like many protected natural areas, however, the park is not immune to threats to biodiversity, particularly the upheavals of invasive alien species. Thanks to Pl@ntNet and the involvement of park partners and visitors however, better management of this risk is possible. For nearly a year, Pl@ntNet users have been helping to inventory the Lewa’s plant biodiversity simply by photographing the plants they encounter in the park with the mobile application. Lewa managers can then consult the data collected and take the most appropriate measures to protect the park’s flora and fauna.

Last August in particular, an image of Parthenium hysterophorus L., observed on the periphery of the park was shared by a Pl@ntNet user. The park managers were alarmed by the presence of this potentially very invasive species and quickly initiated preventive actions to limit this potential invasion. We strongly hope that this will be effective!

A recent article on the adaptation of Pl@ntNet for the management of nature reserves (including Lewa) is published in Ecological Solutions and Evidence journal: Bonnet P, Joly A, Brown S, et al. How citizen scientists contribute to monitor protected areas thanks to automatic plant identification tools. Ecol Solut Evidence. 2020;1:e12023.