FLORA INDONESIABiodiversity Informatics in Indonesia

Citizen Science Solution For National Biodiversity Data Needs


Software and Tools developments. Data acquisition and collection tools, social network, research log using mobile devices and digital reference library that has interoperability feature. Capacity building. Intensive training courses (2 locations), and CodeCamp for botanists and computer scientists. Expedition. 15 days expeditions and data will be uploaded and integrated directly. Participants will be equipped with digital camera, netbook and wireless internet connection. Data match and validation. Photographs and data will be matched by technicians at the national herbarium via the developed system. Much of Indonesia's biodivesrity may be lost forever before it is ever recorded

For numerous scientific and social reasons, we need better data on the plant biodiversity resources of Indonesia, especially given the major land use changes under way. There are simply not enough professional botanists with time and funds to visit the many under-collected places in this country. However, there exists a very enthusiastic group of students, park rangers and professional environmental consultants who frequently travel to the field and make informal observations of plants which they share via social digital media. Using this network of citizen scientist ‘parataxonomists’ represents the only realistic hope for increasing our rate of biodiversity inventory.

The importance of biodiversity resources for national development is increasingly being recognized by policy makers throughout the World (note, e.g., the recent formation of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, IPBES). Indonesia is a primarily rural nation, with great dependence on plant resources. Plant checklists are very valuable for the wise management of Indonesia’s plants at Provincial level, especially in this time of rapidly changing climate. In addition, global progress on biodiversity conservation is partly dependent on national compliance with CBD requirements, and this checklist will be a major contribution towards a Digital Flora for Indonesia’s development progress. The national flora is one of the requirements both under Global Taxonomy initiative (GTI) Program of Work, operational objectives 3 and the Global Strategic for Plant Conservation (GSPC) in its Target 1 and the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Target and its Strategic Goals and targets especially Strategic Goal E target 19 on enhancing implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building that mentioned by 2020, knowledge, the science base and technologies relating to biodiversity, its values, functioning, status and trends, and the consequences of its loss, are improved, widely shared and transferred, and applied.

The development of Provincial and National plant checklist through the participation of Citizen Science like parataxonomists is in-line with the national capacity building policy direction of Indonesia Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan, IBSAP. The inclusion of Citizen Science meets IBSAP implementation on improving the ability of communities in conducting sustainable and equitable management of biodiversity, including plants, based on local knowledge and wisdom. This implementation will be supported by providing easy access to accurate data and related information on the function and potential of biod and appropriate technology for documenting and monitoring biodiversity, at the levels of communities, the NGO and private sector; and the government at the local, regional, and national levels.



By any measure, Indonesia is one of the World’s most biodiverse countries in the World. This biodiversity is both a major source of national and provincial income, via timber and fishing industries, and at the same time being rapidly lost; Indonesia often leads global league tables in rates of deforestation. While conservation activities do not depend absolutely on complete taxonomic species lists, wise natural resource management is greatly facilitated by knowing what species are being used and lost.



Indonesia has committed to various environmental conventions, including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Under CBD, Indonesia is obligated to submit a national report on the implementation of CBD activities that includes current status on Indonesia’s Biodiversity. However, the data is scattered in many departments/institutes that not always shared nor connected and there is uncertainty related to the continuity of maintaining and updating the data in timely manner and in cost effective ways.

Nationally, there is great need in a country like Indonesia for an inventory of plant resources especially for the assessment of biodiversity critical areas as it mandated in Indonesia Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan (IBSAP). Such an inventory will assist with agricultural development and food security, management of invasive species, slowing biodiversity loss, forest management, and adaptation for climate change. Additionally, The Ministry of Environment recently declared that each of Indonesia’s provinces must develop an initiative known as ‘Kehati Daerah’ (regional biodiversity; PP 38, 2007,UU 32, 2009, Permen 29, 2009) and one of its activities is to develop lists of the province’s biodiversity. This requirement is currently beyond the capacity of almost any of the provincial governments.

The process of developing taxonomic checklists involves reconciling international plant lists (e.g., http://www.theplantlist.org/), national lists (e.g. from Whitmore et al. 1990 Tree flora of Indonesia: check list for Kalimantan), and herbarium records. US Collaborator Webb, is currently working on such an integrated list for Kalimantan and will contribute it to this project. However, Borneo is very under-sampled, and no list based solely on existing records will be complete. New observation work is required. The ability to make reliable new observations is also fundamental for ongoing monitoring of protected areas.



The limited capacity of almost any of the provincial governments in surveying and monitoring biodiversity in a large-scale area over spans of years requires public participation. One way to obtain such data is through citizen science, a research technique that enlists the public in gathering scientific information (Bonney et al. 2009. BioScience 59: 11). Citizen science is scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur or non-professional scientists and may be performed by individuals, teams, or networks of volunteers. Citizen scientists often partner with professional scientists to achieve common goals. They may be able to travel to areas that are seldom visited by professional researchers. Thus, a large volunteer networks often allow scientists to accomplish provincial governments or national tasks that would be too expensive or time consuming to accomplish through other means. Foto Biodiversitas Indonesia (http://www.fobi.web.id/) and Nudipixel (http://www.nudipixel.net/) are examples of Citizen Science net- community on biodiversity in Indonesia. For plants, the most active group is ‘Plants Community,’ a FaceBook community, where users post images and ask questions. Most of the active contributors to ‘Plants Community’ are based in West Kalimantan, and many are very knowledgeable about the province’s flora.



As with Citizen Science anywhere, the value and reliability of the data collected is a function of the rigor and standardization in observation. We believe that a short training course is all that will be needed to convert a very enthusiastic and experienced group of citizen scientists into a community capable of rigorous biodiversity inventory. First, we will prepare digital resources to support this group, then we will invite twelve parataxonomists, most of whom we already know by name, to an intensive training course, and arm them with information and hardware. We will send them out to conduct inventory fieldwork, and finally will work with them (virtually) on plant identification and integration of their observations into a common database and biodiversity platform. We believe this is an obvious and necessary process if Indonesia is to increase capacity in recording and monitoring its own biodiversity.



Because of the technological explosion in digital memory, processing power and miniaturization, it is now possible to visit the forest with a complete library of botanical resources on a cheap tablet computer. However, there remains a large gap between what is available for ready download on the internet and what is useful in the field. The most common request by parataxonomists is for information about where they can get digitized books, digital keys and image libraries. US Collaborator Webb has been collating such a digital library for many years, and is pleased to share these data as a starting point for this project. The process of assembling this library takes time and will be a nearly full time job for one of the two technicians at U Gunadarma. The library will take the form of static HTML pages with links to other HTML and non-HTML media, which include downloaded webistes (e.g., http://www.asianplant.net/), scanned (out of copyright) books, image collections from herbaria digitization projects, JavaScript keys (based on http://phylodiversity.net/borneo/) and existing checklists. Though large, the resources will fit on a 16 GB microSD card and will be loaded onto 7-inch tablet computers for easy viewing in the field.

The other technician will develop an easy-to-use portal to a database for storing observations and images. A basic prototype is available at http://flora-indonesia.org. The core of the database will be a carefully constructed data model, which we will develop with US Collaborator Webb. The data model will be based around the unit of the individual plant, as opposed to taxon, and will store multiple determination records for each plant, multiple images, and an ‘intelligent’ taxonomy engine that will attempt to detect and collapse the many cases of synonymy which lead to a decrease in utility of checklist projects. This database will explicitly integrate and build upon ongoing biodiversity database work underway at U Gunadarma as part of collaboration under the existing NSF grant. A core part of the new portal will be built-in social media functionality (chat, twitter feeds, reputation, etc.) that will make communication, adding determinations and debating determinations fun and easy for the users. Two current UG students (Fitri Nur Jannah and Kartika Dwintaputri S) have just completed a basic ‘social media’ biodiversity database as a thesis project, and will involve them in this new project.



One of the project deliverable is the preliminary West Kalimantan plant checklist and a well documented standardized data collecting and sharing method for citizen science and a well documented work-flow. We will propose this basic method at a workshop at the Ministry of Environment, to be funded by them (co-PI Teguh works closely with MoE). The MoE Clearing House Mechanism (CHM) is the main portal for connecting all provincial biodiversity data in Indonesia.

For sharing the data collection and sharing mechanisms, we expect the existing community of amateur plant observers will ‘spread the word’ and we will make sure that the content of the Training course is fully recorded and documented on the web. Additionally, the NSF-funded field team of Webb’s project has already been invited to share these methods at various national parks around the country, and we look forward to numerous such outreach opportunities.



Public participation in scientific research is important. Public have been involved in biodiversity and environment, global climate change research and other field of research and had gathered numerous amount of plant species data. Citizen Science has expanded the outreach of scientists research capability in collecting data and expanded research coverage area as well as expanded the time span although the data is often questioned on its completeness, consistency, validity, precision and accuracy. The proposed project expect that through the development of accessible digital plant identification information, training on standardized data collection and sharing, the direct fieldwork practice and sharing identification process with experts,:

  1. We will have trained citizen science/parataxonomists who are equipped with standardized plant collecting equipment and data gathering method to assist local government in plant survey and documentation,
  2. We will produce a complete, valid, consistent, precise and accurate preliminary plant checklist needed for West Kalimantan Provincial ‘Kehati Daerah’ programs, for Digital Flora of Indonesia and for CBD compliance, that can be used for policy makers in drawing policy for biodiversity protection,
  3. We will make a significantly contribution to basic biological science in Indonesia and globally, through the public participation or citizen science engagement,
  4. We will make international contributions in informatics, developing workflows and tools for plant checklists development and hopefully have a catalytic role in the progress of biodiversity information science development in Indonesia.

Joint Research:

Funded by: