Do you have plant lists or other written or mental notes about where you’ve observed plants in the East Bay? Are you aware that those notes could contribute to science, help give us a better understanding of our environment, and maybe even be used to help study and determine how we can fight the climate crisis and other important issues? CNPS East Bay and Calflora would like to help you enter your data into Calflora to make it available to others for use in research, education, and many other activities.
We are fortunate in the East Bay to know more about our local flora than most places in the world. And every bit of information we can add to that knowledge helps.
For many decades our volunteers have spread out across the East Bay to record what grows here, coordinated by our rare and “unusual” plant leadership. Much of this work has been entered into databases, such as Dianne Lake’s “Database of Rare, Unusual and Significant Plants of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties,” which has produced a steady stream of publications, projects to find rare or long-ago observed plants, an understanding of which populations of species of concern are growing or shrinking, and countless other insights.
As a generation of “digital natives” emerges among CNPS volunteers and working botanists, they are naturally contributing their observations and vouchers to institutions like our chapter, Calflora, iNaturalist (whose observations are regularly added to Calflora), and herbaria, thus adding to the stock of digital knowledge we all can use to more effectively advocate for our flora. Locations of rare or threatened plants can be obscured on Calflora, so we can learn in a general way that a plant occurs in a region but no one can use Calflora to find specific populations.
We know that many knowledgeable people in our region also have information stored in hand-written notes, personal spreadsheets or databases, georeferenced photographs, and other records. These have immense potential value for our chapter.
This past year, our chapter and Calflora have been discussing how to reach out to folks with personal records of our flora in order to help them add that knowledge to our digital storehouses.
With this in mind, a generous CNPS East Bay Chapter member has contributed funds for a joint CNPS-EB/Calflora project to offer workshops and other assistance in digitizing this body of knowledge and to make it more available to our membership and others whose work and activities it could benefit. Our chapter has a long history of partnership with Calflora, and this project to record important plant location information in a central database is one of our most important joint initiatives.
How can we help you share your knowledge? Can we help you enter your data, including plant photos, into Calflora, where it will be available to scientists and researchers as well as fellow plant lovers? Would a workshop on how to enter data help? Would an individual one-on-one session help? Other kinds of assistance?
Please write to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and share your thoughts. Once we get a sense of what would be most helpful to you, we’ll schedule workshops or other sessions over the coming months tailored to your interests (in person or online, depending on how COVID evolves).
— Roy West, CNPS East Bay Chapter