SEARCH FOR TRANSFORMATIVE ACTIONS - 111

TRANSFORMATIVE ACTIONS SEARCH RESULTS -

Lens in your pocket to help the species
Organisation : Landscape Laboratory of Guimarães (laboratório da Paisagem) , Portugal

Biodiversity Go! arose from the Guimarães 2030 Sustainability Plan. Using a science citizen concept, this app catalogues fauna and flora species occurring in Guimarães and georeferences them. Data is used to produce information, which helps political decision-making processes to protect biodiversity. Also, this app is important in raising awareness about invasive exotic species and to help prevent further invasions. The success of this transformative action relies on active participation of all citizens in the preservation of the city´s natural heritage. Since 2016, a set of actions involving the scientific community and local inhabitants have been developed in Guimarães using BiodiversityGo!

Agendas addressed
DecarbonisationBiodiversityGreenfield land and natural space
Climate change
Pathways followed
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Encourage local private and civic engagement
  • Wisely select and apply smart technologies
  • Guarantee equal access to information & digital services
  • Support open data standards
  • Prepare policies for socio-cultural changes due to innovation
Context
Landscape lab / Citizen-science concept

The Guimarães roadmap towards sustainable development has been running since it was established in 2015 and is seting some tools helping with the implementation of projects under 12 indicator areas - from climate change mitigation and adaptation to biodiversity and nature. Since 2015, The City Hall and Universities are working together under the Mission Structure Guimarães 2030 also, a strategic plan for community – Guimarães mais verde and PEGADAS - was set and more that 10,000 events took place to sensitize and educate our community to this common cause. Some monitoring tools to access the Municipality performance were also established. Since 2017, Guimarães has been the most sustainable municipality in Portugal. Regarding the preservation of biodiversity, one of the actions taken in Guimarães was the development of the Biodivesity Go! app, which has contributed to increasing knowledge about the existing species, mapping habitats and raising awareness among citizens to the importance of protecting autochthonous species and ecosystems.

In Action

The Landscape Laboratory is an association created by City Hall in 2014 to support the sustainable development of our territory. It acts on a multidisciplinary basis, bringing together four areas - Ecology, Hydrology, Geography and Urban Environment.

The Landscape Laboratory seeks to address challenges posed by civil society, by reflecting on them and finding innovative solutions to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of the populations. The Landscape Laboratory also sought to combine together the local authority’s territory management experience and the knowledge provided by universities, including two of the most prestigious universities in the country: University of Minho and the University of Trás-os-MontesandAltoDouro. The landscape laboratory is also the coordinator of the Municipal Program for Environmental education - PEGADAS –  which has been running since 2015,  gathering 19,300 students, 1700 teachers, 93 actions designed by 43 partners (privates).

 Also, this association is the headquarters of the Mission Guimarães 2030, where the sustainable plan for the territory is being set in 12 indicator areas, and the program for all the citizens – Guimarães mais verde – is being implemented.  

Over the past three years, more than 300 species existing in Guimarães were registered and georeferenced in the Biodiversity Go! app. This is a testimony to the great success of this transformative action. Volunteers (“Green Brigades”, i.e., groups of volunteers that are acting proactively to protect ou Natural heritage), companies and institutions such as schools and universities have been involved in cataloguing local biodiversity. This initiative is included in the project “Protection and Promotion of Biodiversity in Guimarães” (P2Green) that led in 2017 to the recognition of Guimarães as an “URBACT good practice”. The approach used by the Biodiversity Go! transformative action involves the collaborative work of citizens, local research institutes, educational systems and companies, all committed to preserving local biodiversity.  It has four main goals:

  • Increasing knowledge about local species;
  • Protecting the green areas of Guimarães Municipality and their biodiversity;
  • Giving citizens the opportunity to learn more about biodiversity in Guimarães using a mobile app, while enjoying their leisure time (e.g. city parks, Mountain of Penha);
  • Educating citizens on environmental issues.

With this transformative action we found species included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Iberian gray shrike (Lanius meridionalis). Having more knowledge on the species occurring in Guimarães, including the threatened ones, we can all act in order to protect their natural habitats.

Results

- 2nd position in EGC award evaluation: In the “Nature and Biodiversity” indicator of the EU objectives for the biodiversity preservation (5th indicator) of the application for European Green Capital 2020, Guimarães was placed second. Within this indicator, Guimarães emphasized the importance of this transforming action Biodiversity Go! which strongly supports the citizen science concept .

- Ribeiro CA., Carvalho, F., Silva N., (2017). Citizen Science in the Promotion of Biodiversity, Environmentally Sustainable. AmbientalMENTE Sustentable. DOI: 10.17979/ams.2017.01.023-024.3374).

- Guimarães was the only Portuguese city to participate in the City Nature Challenge 2018, where the Biodiversity GO! app was used. In this challenge, 105 people participated, 238 species were observed and 112 new species were introduced on the app. This result was very positive, with an inspiring involvement of the citizens in a competition involving 68 cities around the world.

- There is an active participation of more than 200 people who use Biodiversity Go!, with an average of 40 species submitted per month. Biodiversity Go! is also used in BioBlitz activities (intense period of biological surveying in an attempt to record all the living species within a designated area and people are informed about the importance of protecting our planet for present and future generations ) in Guimarães.

 -  Our team participated in the Environment Forum of the European Cities Network (Eurocities) in Italy (Genoa), and presented as “good practice” regarding the interaction and contribution of the “Green Brigades” of Guimarães Municipality (which use the Biodiversity Go! app) to biodiversity protection.

- The Biodiversity GO! app was presented in a session titled “citizen-science as an instrument to raise awareness on urban nature”, at the Nature of Cities – Summit, Paris, which brought together researchers, politicians and world leaders.

 

Impact

The loss of biodiversity impairs the functioning and resilience of ecosystems, which threatens their ability to continuously provide the flow of services both for the current and future generations. Regardless of the importance of species biodiversity for humans, anthropogenic activities are the major drivers of biodiversity loss.

The main goal of the Biodiversity GO! app is to build a species database with the location of species occurrence, thus collecting both qualitative and quantitative data regarding biodiversity in Guimarães. All citizens are invited to participate in the species inventory and Biodiversity Go! related educational activities.  

By providing environmental volunteering actions, this initiative promotes active citizenship, social inclusion, intergenerational and intercultural dialogue, new learning opportunities, as well as sustainable development, environmental responsibility and environmental protection.

For example, “Green Brigades” - groups of volunteers that protect biodiversity and its intrinsic value in each parich of Guimarães Municipality - were created to involve the population in environmental issues, thus strengthening social cohesion for a common benefit. This way, it is intended that the mobile app Biodiversity GO! becomes a tool for active environmental citizenship, both individually and collectively, working to preserve autochthonous species and to control invasive ones. This tool has proven to be an element of union and solidary for the population of Guimarães. 

Challenges and lessons learned

Most citizens use the Biodiversity Go! app to see particular species of fauna or flora previously georeferenced, and the number of citizens that actively participate in cataloguing new species in Guimarães is increasing over the years (currently around 200 people).

Several environmental education activities (e.g. involving the scientific community and students or volunteers) have been developed to raise awareness of autochthonous species protection and also to increase the use of the Biodiversity Go! app.

Biodiversity Go! must be replicated in other cities, since it has a positive impact on society - it promotes active environmental citizenship, supports sustainable development, and promotes the connection between the environment, society and economy.

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Contact

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
European Secretariat

Leopoldring 3
79098 Freiburg
Germany

Tel.: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 0
Fax: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 19

E-mail: info@sustainablecities.eu
Website: www.sustainablecities.eu

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