In partnership with The Nature Conservancy, DigitalGlobe today activated its Tomnod crowdsourcing platform to help preserve Hawaii’s remaining native forests, the areas that remain mostly untouched by civilization. Invasive weeds, such as the Australian Tree Fern and African Tulip Tree, are aggressively spreading throughout Hawaii’s high-elevation rainforests. In fact, invasive species have contributed to the destruction of more than 50 percent of Hawaii’s native forests, according to The Nature Conservancy. DigitalGlobe has a unique ability to monitor change around the world, and this campaign will allow us to do just that.
Starting with the island of Kauai, we want to pinpoint the location of some of the worst invasive weeds, but we need your help! If you would like to volunteer your time to support this mission, please visit DigitalGlobe’s Tomnod platform to join other eco-volunteers in combing through aerial images of Kauai to tag two different species of invasive weeds, specifically:
Australian Tree Fern
Partial Australian Tree Fern (these are juveniles or occluded ones)
African Tulip Tree
The native forest is Hawaii’s source for fresh water, but weeds are growing over the existing forests, which scientists believe dramatically reduces the amount of fresh water that is available across the islands. Invasive species have already done enough damage to Hawaii’s native forests, animals and overall economy. Here are the facts:
- More than 80 percent of Hawaii’s endangered plants are threatened by invasive species
- 72 percent of all extinct species in the U.S.are from Hawaii
- Half of the native Hawaiian bird species are already extinct, and 40 percent of the remaining native birds are on the endangered species list
- Hawaii’s tourism industry, which brings $20 billion a year to the state and its people, could be severely impacted by invasive species
This project uses Conservancy-provided high resolution aerial photography of Kauai’s remote rainforests. By pinpointing the location of each weed, the Conservancy will be able to focus its efforts on each one, and identify the leading edge of the weeds’ spread. Targeting weeds in the regions of the forest where they are most prevalent will slow further spread and push back that leading edge, protecting the 27 percent of native forest that remains on Kauai. Hawaii as a state stretches over more than 16,000 square kilometers, and the island of Kauai is more than 1,400 square kilometers, so the crowd can play a significant role in targeting these weeds before they spread any further. Although this project focuses on just 3,000 acres, if it is successful, the Conservancy has thousands more acres — and images — to analyze.
DigitalGlobe’s crowdsourcing platform has been involved in the response and recovery efforts for numerous natural and man-made disasters, but this is the first campaign launched specifically for environmental conservations efforts. We’re looking forward to activating our platform for similar efforts in support of our purpose of Seeing a Better World™.