GIS – 27 October 2015: The Minister of Environment, Sustainable Development, and Disaster and Beach Management, Mr Jayeshwur Raj Dayal, anounced the implementation shortly of biocaching, a concept which aims to be an educative game based on observing and taking pictures of natural species in both the terrestrial and marine environment.
Biocaching is a mobile application which inspires people to learn about nature, said the Minister at a press conference on 23 October 2015 in Port Louis. It encourages them to go outside in their neighbourhood and places that they visit and search for species and at the same time inspires the community to learn about the species and their habitats.
Mr Dayal looks forward that biocaching encourages the public and youngsters to conduct biodiversity survey in their immediate environment, be it forests, natural parks and reserves, the coastal ecosystems, among others. It puts the power to conduct a local biodiversity survey in anyone hands. In this way, it increases our scientific knowledge, encourages people to conduct research and share information, he said.
Biocaching is meant for people of all ages who use mobile application and will interest children, youngsters, elderly people and even tourists. Consequently families can search for species in their own garden, schools can use it to teach about nature, and NGOs as well as Government can also use it to sensitise citizens and better protect its biodiversity, be it marine or terrestrial, said the Minister.
As biocaching is about acknowledging and valuing nature, doing research, sharing findings, protecting and improving their environment, and promoting sustainable development while enjoying the activities, the focus will be on children and youth who will shortly be on summer holidays, he recalled. This activity will involve, motivate, educate and foster collaboration amongst youngsters and all citizens in general. Best works will be rewarded by a number of prizes including cash and tickets for safari tours.
Observations conducted by the public may be forwarded to global biodiversity databases through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, which makes all the data freely available to the scientific community and to the general public. Biocaching is crowd sourcing of scientific data that can be used in big data analytics by scientists.
It is a concept is recognised by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) which was recently presented at the Eye on Earth Summit in Abu Dhabi. UNEP views it as an example of the innovation that is needed to follow up on the recently defined 17 Sustainable Development Goals especially the 14th and 15th Goals.