Villagers in the Republic of Congo's Plateaux Nord region have started mapping their forest resources, in a move officials say will help to protect their interests. The initiative started in the first half of this year in four villages in Ollombo District, with the aim of protecting their livelihoods in the face of rampant deforestation and logging activities. Implemented by the Congolese Human Rights Forum with the Rainforest Foundation of UK, the project aims to promote the rights of forest communities to access, control and utilize the forests in accordance with Congolese law. It is also being implemented in Gabon and the Central African Republic. (Source: IRIN news, 23 September 2009)
A mobile phone application will help professional and “citizen” scientists collect and analyse data from “in the field”, anywhere in the world. The EpiCollect software collates data from certain mobiles - on topics such as disease spread or the occurrence of rare species - in a web-based database. The data is statistically analysed and plotted on maps that are instantly available to those same phones. The approach is outlined in the open-access journal PLoS ONE. The software has been developed for so-called smartphones that run Google's Android open-source operating system. Researchers can report back to the EpiCollect database with results from experiments they do in the field, and “citizen scientists” can send back photos or videos of certain species from their own backyards. The phones’ GPS system automatically logs users’ locations, and the data is then plotted by location using Google Maps. Then anyone can access the database online, or from their phone. (Source: BBC News, 16 September 2009)
The FAO and the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) have signed a cooperation agreement to deliver jointly a series of online courses on knowledge management and web 2.0 technologies for developing countries. The UNITAR/FAO interactive tutor-facilitated online courses will be certified using internationally recognized quality standards schemes, and will be based on self-paced e-learning materials developed by FAO and partners as part of the Information Management Resource Kit. (Source: FAO Media Centre, 14 July 2010)
The purpose of this guideline (published by the Inter-American Development Bank) is to provide suggestions on designing impact evaluations for agricultural projects, particularly projects that directly target farmers, and seek to improve agricultural production, productivity and profitability. Specific issues in evaluating agricultural projects are addressed, including the need to use production-based indicators and to carefully consider indirect or spillover effects that are common in agricultural projects. The guideline considers the challenges of conducting impact evaluations of agricultural projects as well as the methods for assessing impact. Issues of collecting agricultural data for an impact evaluation and how to put together the overall design strategy in an evaluation plan are also covered. The guideline concludes with three case studies of impact evaluations designed for a technology adoption project in the Dominican Republic, a forestry/technology project in Nicaragua, and a crop insurance project in Peru. (Inter-American Development Bank, 1/4/2011)
The Pacific Biodiversity Information Forum (PBIF) seeks to develop a complete, scientifically sound, and electronically accessible Pacific biological knowledge base and make it widely available to local, national, regional and global users for decision-making. PBIF's geographic scope includes the countries of Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia, as well as the Australasian countries bordering these regions. PBIF has a number of databases and bibliographies on issues related to biodiversity, and it maintains a list of organisations working in the field.
This online tool is an easy to use database of Biotech/GM crop approvals for various biotechnology stakeholders. It features the Biotech/GM crop events and traits that have been approved for commercialization and planting and/or for import for food and feed use with a short description of the crop and the trait.
agINFRA is a European innovative Integrated Infrastructure Initiative (I3) project -- launched November 2011 -- that will introduce agricultural scientific communities to the vision of open and participatory data-intensive science. To achieve this aim, agINFRA will design and develop a scientific data infrastructure for agricultural sciences that will facilitate the development of policies and services that promote the sharing of data among agricultural scientists in a manner that develops trust within and amongst their communities. The project’s website www.aginfra-project.eu is currently under construction, to be ready for a January 2012 launch. (AIMS Blog via GSDI newsletter, 15/11/2011)
An international body for gathering and promoting knowledge about underused crops is to be established in Malaysia. Crops for the Future will encourage investment and research into neglected and underused plant species — such as Africa's baobab and marula trees — for the benefit of the poor and the environment (Source: Brendan O'Malley, SciDev, 26 November 2008).
The Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog posted a useful reminder to anyone looking online for scientific resources on ethnobotany and germplasm collection. The post has a link to a webpage maintained by the University of Kent listing a comprenhensive compilation of online databases, search engines, checklists, image galleries, etc., meant for students in ethnobotany. This page is an overview of where to find complete plant names, conservation status and uses, citations and references managers.For the germsplasm collector, Agro.biodiver.se also points to the Crop Genebank Knowledge Base and its page on 'Published sources of information on wild plant species' which is synthesis of new knowledge, procedures, best practices and references for collecting plant diversity. It explains how and where to check taxonomy/species name, digitized botanical literature and flora guides.(Agro.biodiver.se, 9/10/2012)http://www.kew.org/science/ecbot/kent.htmlhttp://goo.gl/4oxs9
A new interactive tool for identifying nearly 200 different weed species of lowland rice in East and West Africa was recently unveiled at the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice). The tool is built on a comprehensive knowledge base that can be accessed online (http://www.afroweeds.org/idao/) and offline on laptops and CD-ROMs or as an app on smartphones and tablet computers.http://www.africarice.org/warda/newsrel-afroweed-oct12.asp
The Harvard Open Access (OA) Project has released version 1.0 (10/2012) of a guide to good practices for university open-access policies. The guide is based on policies adopted at Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and several other institutions around the world. It includes recommendations that should be useful to institutions using other approaches and those that are interested in considering implementing an OA policy.(Harvard University, 17/10/2012)
A large number of different plant lines are produced and maintained in a typical plant research laboratory, both as seed stocks and in active growth. These collections need careful and consistent management to track and maintain them properly, and this is a particularly pressing issue in laboratories undertaking research involving genetic manipulation due to regulatory requirements. Phytotracker is a laboratory management system/software designed specifically to organise and track plasmids, seeds and growing plants that can be used in mixed platform environments. It utilises the cross-platform Filemaker relational database, which allows it to be run as a stand-alone or as a server-based networked solution, to provide cataloguing and search functions for plasmids, seed batches, seed stocks and plants growing in pots or trays, and allows tracking of each plant from seed sowing, through harvest to the new seed batch and can print appropriate labels at each stage. The software was developed at Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, UK by Jeroen Nieuwland and colleagues. Learn more about the software here.(Plant Methods 2012, 8:43; 13/10/2012)
The Africa Lead database features an extensive listing of upcoming training courses and open education resources from around the world related to food security issues in Africa. It is relevant for government officials, farm leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, and policy leaders in agriculture. It is a collaborative project between OER Africa, an initiative of the South African Institute for Distance Education (SAIDE), the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) and the Africa Leadership Training and Capacity Building Program (Africa Lead). The database will ensure the widespread dissemination and usage of some of the courses offered by Africa’s and America’s agricultural institutions. http://africalead.oerafrica.org/ and http://www.e-agriculture.org/news/africa-lead-database-e-learning-courses-scaling-food-security-africa (e-agriculture, 15/01/2013)
The e-learning tool 'Planning for Community Based Adaptation’ (CBA) to Climate Change' supports training on community-based climate change adaptation in agriculture. The tool links research-based knowledge on climate change impacts with examples and experiences on CBA drawn from FAO field projects and a range of country-specific case studies. The intended outcome of the tool is to assist all actors, who face the challenge of initiating and facilitating adaptation processes at community level.(FAO, 2013)
AGRICAB is an EU funded project that builds on GEONETcast, a near real time, global network of satellite-based data dissemination systems designed to distribute space-based, air-borne and in situ data, metadata and products to diverse communities. The project addresses three main topics: (i) sustained digital data access; (ii) enhancing earth observations through predictive modelling; (iii) expose, discover, experience activities to allow a large community to learn and implement. Dedicated use cases in various African countries designed to address policy issues related to livestock, crop systems and forest management will be used to train stakeholders atf the Observatoire du Sahara et du Sahel (OSS, Tunisia), the Regional Centre for Mapping Resources for Development (RCMRD, Kenya) and the AGRHYMET in Niger. http://www.agricab.info/Publications/Pages/Publications.aspx (AGRICAB, 2013)
PacGeo is an all-encompassing geospatial platform for cataloguing, administering and exposing geophysical, geodetic and specialist marine spatial data for the Pacific community. PacGeo provides easy access to jurisdictional information and tools for marine spatial planning in the Pacific. The system has been developed by the University of Sydney, Applied GeoScience and Technology Division of Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SOPAC/SPC), Geoscience Australia (GA), and UNEP GRID-Arendal Centre. PacGeo will be launched with finalised datasets by the summer 2014.