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Wildlife app will encourage children to help build species database | UK News

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Children could help scientists map biodiversity around the world using a new app.

The Seek app helps users to identify a wildlife species if they film it on their smartphone.

It is hoped the technology will encourage young people to engage with nature and find out more about the insects, plants and animals living in their back garden.

Species logged on the app will be sent back to a global database
Image:
Species logged on the app will be sent back to a global database

The information collected on the app can then be fed back to a global database to help scientists chart different species around the world.

Imogen, 9, has found woodlouse, earwigs and spiders in her school playground using the app.

She said: “It’s really exciting because if you take a photo of a flower, it would tell you what kind of flower it was.

“You know what the species are so you can try and help protect them if they’re quite rare or if they’re endangered.”

More than a million animal and plant species are at risk of extinction, according to a major UN report.

The research, published last month, found that nature is declining at a speed never previously seen.

The Seek app identifies wildlife which users have filmed on their phone
Image:
The Seek app identifies wildlife which users have filmed on their phone

Professor Alexandre Antonelli, director of science at Kew Gardens, says engaging children “will be essential to protecting our planet”.

He said: “Biodiversity is essential for medicines, the food we eat, the materials we use.

“It’s really important to expose children to nature from an early age because if they do that, they also understand not only the nature as a whole but also the different species.

“In doing that, they also engage more in biodiversity and nature and also work towards protecting that for the future because they’ll be the decision makers in the future.”

Experts hope the app will help children engage with nature
Image:
Experts hope the app will help children engage with nature

Colin Buttfield from the WWF says technology will be key to engaging young people in the issues affecting our planet.

“We’re the first generation of people to know the impact of what we’re doing to the planet, and the last that has a chance to do anything about it,” he said.

“Young people are increasingly demanding that our leaders take action to protect our planet.

“Resources like the Seek app are vital to help them learn more the wonders of our natural world and be part of scientific efforts to understand the impact we are having.”

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