Mexico's National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO), the Carlos Slim Foundation and TELCEL launched the "NaturaLista" digital platform, innovative scientific tool that fosters knowledge about nature and its preservation by means of social media.
December 2, 2013. Soumaya Museum, Mexico City
NATURALISTA Digital Platform
In order to love and value nature one should know it
A new era has begun when it comes to accessing knowledge about nature in Mexico. The new digital platform for popular science “NaturaLista” (www.naturalista.mx) was launched today in the Soumaya Museum. The platform has been developed by CONABIO, Mexico’s National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity, with the support of the Carlos Slim Foundation and TELCEL. Mr. Juan José Guerra Abud, Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) in Mexico’s Federal government, Dr. José Sarukhan Kermez, CONABIO’s National Coordinator, Mr. Carlos Slim Helú and Dr. Roberto Tapia Conyer, General Director of the Carlos Slim Foundation, attended the event.
NaturaLista is an innovative and entertaining scientific tool that helps users learn about plants, mushrooms and animals, thus contributing to the scientific knowledge of Mexican nature. NaturaLista is social media, encyclopedia, photographic catalogue, map room, field guidebook and, above all, an educational hobby. To date, the platform contains information about 70 thousand Mexican species (endemic and native to the country), endangered species in Mexico and the world, as well as species that were introduced into Mexico (exotic species).
In NaturaLista species are classified along the lines of the CONABIO catalogs as well as those provided by the biggest taxonomical consortia in the world (Catalogue of Life and uBio). Knowledge is obtained from four different sources (CONABIO, the Life Encyclopedia, Wikipedia in Spanish and Wikipedia in English). When trying to identify or consult about a particular species, the platform displays its scientific and common names (in Spanish and several indigenous languages). It also contains photographs of species, maps of their distribution, as well as records about scientific collections held in museums and herbariums. Photographs contain data about the place where the picture was taken (by State, city, municipality, township, protected area, park, etc.), and they can also provide information about specific projects generated by particular users.
In order to love and value nature one should know it: this is the vision of NaturaLista. With your own observations of plants and animals, you can contribute to popular science in Mexico. This is very easy: TAKE a snapshot of any plant or animal you come across or look for them in your favorite spot! SHARE your pictures through the digital platform and contribute to the scientific knowledge of nature. Get to KNOW the infinite number of species present in Mexico: you will discover thousands of observations that you can organize in different photographic listings and use them as a biological guidebook accesible via your mobile phone. The digital device contains tutorial videos that easily explain the procedure step by step.
On the occasion of the launching of NaturaLista, Dr. José Sarukhán, affirmed that this platform is the result of several decades of research by the Mexican and international scientific communities. The main objective of NaturaLista is to increase popular knowledge about the important value of our natural heritage in Mexico. Thanks to the new technologies, many citizens can provide us with new information of scientific value about Mexico’s natural treasures.
Some of the activities supported by the Carlos Slim Foundation are related to the use of information technologies in the promotion of education. In 2011, the “Academica” platform was created to congregate an important digital community related to knowledge. This is a free access no cost platform promoting the creation and exchange of ideas in several topics. It contributes to the human development and training of individuals by means of information technologies. With NaturaLista, CONABIO and the Carlos Slim Foundation take an important step in their partnership to foster education on environmental matters in Mexico. In the context of this project, the Carlos Slim Foundation will provide support to install computing equipment and donate photographic cameras in around 60 rural communities working in eco-touristic projects or with natural resource management programs. Moreover, the Foundation will provide scholarships to twelve researchers that will dedicate part of their time to verify the information uploaded in NaturaLista.
With the support of SEMARNAT, CONABIO will provide computing equipment, photographic cameras and personnel training to the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP). The aim is to launch photographic records in 18 protected zones. Visitors to these areas will have access to photographs of local plants and animals and will be able to contribute to the construction of the inventory. This initiative will be extended and complemented by visits to other sites like archeological zones, haciendas, botanical gardens, magical towns and other important tourist destinations.
Dr. Robert Tapia, General Director of the Carlos Slim Foundation declared, “In the Carlos Slim Foundation it has always been clear for us that technology is an extraordinary tool to properly educate society. We believe that the more accessible the technology, the greater the possibilities for people to transmit knowledge, information and culture.”
Mr. Carlos Slim commented, “This is a very important digital platform, educational and innovative, that fosters the knowledge of nature, the animal and plant kingdoms, by means of social media, inviting us all to participate. This platform already contains data about over 70 thousand species. TELCEL and the Carlos Slim Foundation are very pleased to help CONABIO develop this program that complements our existing partnership with the WWF.”
Become a Naturalist, and invite your friends, buddies and family members to become naturalists and contribute to science. Ask them to join NaturaLista, upload their observations of plants and animals and get to know other Mexican naturalists. In the city, town, protected area, park or in any street corner! students, housewives, workers, amateurs or professionals of any age can all become naturalists and contribute to enhance popular science in Mexico!
Join in the exploration of the natural treasures of Mexico!
More information about Mexican biological riches:
CONABIO, Mexico’s National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity, is a permanent interministerial commission. Its aim is to generate the intelligence needed in Mexico to promote public policies and social decisions about biodiversity. In order to do so, CONABIO is mainly dedicated to conform and update the National Biodiversity Information System (SNIB), it supports projects and research on the knowledge and use of biodiversity, it provides assistance to other governmental agencies and other sectors, it develops special projects, disseminates knowledge about biological heritage, complies with international agreements and provides services to the general public. CONABIO was created by Presidential decree on March 16, 1992.
The Carlos Slim Foundation
Created in 1986, the Carlos Slim Foundation supports high impact programs focused on the most vulnerable populations, benefitting over 36 million persons. With its high sense of social responsibility, efficiency and opportunity, the Foundation offers programs in the following sectors: education, health, social justice, culture, human development, natural disaster relief, economic development, environmental protection and conservation. Through these programs the Foundation contributes to ameliorate the living conditions of populations in all age groups, fostering human capital development and creating opportunities for the integrated development of individuals and their communities.