8 Dec 2015

iBird to support monitoring of ecological health in Palau

iBird Application to help monitor ecological helth
I Bird application
By Palau Conservation Society

In Palau, technology in the form of iPods and the iBird application, is helping in the response to the threats of climate change to this Micronesian nation.   And it is the local BirdLife partner, Palau Conservation Society (PCS), in association with BirdLife and the Aage V. Jensen Foundation,  that is providing these innovative tools.  

The role of birds as messengers of the ecological health of the planet is an important part of the BirdLife campaign on climate change.   Birds provide key insights into how climate change threatens communities, species and habitats.   Nowhere is the threat of climate change better appreciated than in Micronesia in the western Pacific where many of their communities are threatened by rises in the sea level.  In Palau, the State Conservation Coordinators are developing a programme to monitor forest health using birds as the indicators. 

Last year in November, 11 out of 16 states participated in a week long training on monitoring forest health. During that training, the participants were trained on the different methods in monitoring forest health, including using birds as indicators of forest health. Twelve months on and PCS is able to provide a tool to support monitoring using birds as indicators of ecosystem health.

This November, follow up training on monitoring forest health was held at PCS. This training was a one-hour training on the use of iBird as a tool to support monitoring ecosystem health. Because birds are sensitive to changes in the ecosystem, they are great indicators to stresses in the environment. In order to monitor birds, the conservation personnel must first learn their birds. The iBird Hawaii and Palau application has been chosen as the best way to support this proramme. The app is a guide that can help the conservation personnel to learn their birds so that they will be able to monitor them to assess the health of their protected areas and guide the management efforts in those protected areas.

With funding from the Jensen Foundation, PCS was able to purchase iPods and the iBird app for the participants who attended the first monitoring training and the recent follow up to that training. With the iBird app, conservation practitioners not only have a tool to help them identify and learn the birds in their state protected areas, they are also given a tool that may support future bird watching as a potential eco- tourism option.