Capacity project generates new guide on camera trapping

A new guide that helps generate data for conservation policy using camera trap images is among the major products of a three-year capacity-building project involving GBIF and partners in India and Norway.

A new guide that helps generate data for conservation policy using camera trap images is among the major products of a three-year capacity-building project involving GBIF and partners in India and Norway.

The Indo-Norwegian effort—devised in 2011 to demonstrate collaboration on capacity-building for the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)—has published a final report that details its outcomes while aiming to break down barriers to the mobilization and use of biodiversity data for decision-making.

Frank Hanssen, the project manager and GIS coordinator at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), said, "Through several case studies we have demonstrated how biodiversity informatics, camera trapping, data mobilization and access policies can contribute to improved research activities and decision-making."

GBIF has edited and published a best practice guide with contributions from across the project team. Publishing Camera Trap Data, a Best Practice Guide supports managers and practitioners working on biodiversity projects that include a camera-trapping component. The guide provides practical recommendations on how to plan and execute capture of camera-trap images as well as how to publish the resulting data in formats compatible with GBIF and other networks to ensure they are freely available for use in research and decision-making.

The guide builds on the experience and expertise of Indian scientists, who have evolved advanced techniques for camera trapping in both protected nature reserves and rural settlements in India and neighbouring countries. During the project, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) developed a national database and a web portal for mobilizing camera trap data, which provides a framework for managing the large volumes of high-quality camera trap data of threatened species currently scattered in archives, computers and servers across the country.

The WII has also published a dataset through GBIF that includes more than 300 occurrence records of tigers, whose images were captured by camera traps in the Rajaji National Park between 2008 and 2012.

"We hope this collaborative effort will help practitioners in many parts of the world work through the basic steps needed to generate useful data from camera traps”, said Alberto González-Talaván, senior programme officer for training at the GBIF Secretariat and one of the editors of the guide. ”Because we intend to maintain the guide as a living document, we welcome feedback from those using it so that future updates can be based on their experience."

Dr Vinod Mathur, director of WII and also a member of the IPBES Multidisciplinary Expert Panel, commented, "This project serves as a good example of how the concept of having a better research-policy interface can be translated into an on-ground action to promote conservation of an endangered wild carnivore species: the tiger. The project has highlighted the need for making investments in the science of biodiversity informatics as these investments help in securing both species and habitat conservation."

Norway is funding a technical support unit for capacity-building under IPBES, and the project is part of the Norwegian contribution to the new platform, focusing on the national user needs of India. NINA's managing director Norunn Myklebust noted, "This type of activity has a high priority in NINA. This project is a good example of how Norwegian and Indian knowledge-based environments can contribute to IPBES together."

Other components of the project included:

Project partners

NHM and WII are hosts of the GBIF nodes in Norway and India respectively.

Photo: courtesy of Wildlife Institute of India