CEC looks forward to welcoming new member Mauri Ahlberg, a professor whose R&D team of Eija and Jouko Lehmuskallio created a fast and free online service for species identification. Designed for Finland, the idea can be replicated anywhere.
Welcome to NatureGate
New CEC member Mauri Ahlberg is a professor of biology and sustainability education at the University of Helsinki. He heads a research and development team that created a free online service for fast and easy species identification, as described on its website:
NatureGate’s services enable you to enjoy and learn about many aspects of nature in Finland. Our services provide a wealth of information about Finland’s plants, birds and butterflies, as well as many pictures of our featured species. You can even identify plants using the pride of our website: a unique species-identifying tool. We hope these services will be useful for you, and give you many new reasons to visit beautiful natural places in Finland.
Mauri invites viewers to consider such a resource for their own work: "Please check it yourself and think about huge options of applying NatureGate agenda around the World, to all regions and countries. These kinds of services promote sustainable use of biodiversity," he says.
NatureGate Ltd is less than one year old. It is the brainchild of Eija and Jouko Lehmuskallio, who both share a professional media background and a passion for nature. For almost 20 years the Lehmuskallios have been building up an amazing collection of images, particularly analytical pictures for identifying flowers, birds and butterflies. They also have been devising ways to make this impressive image library into a useful practical service.
"NatureGate R&D and social business group was founded February 28, 2006. Our organization is young, but the core experts (Mauri Ahlberg, Eija Lehmuskallio and Jouko Lehmuskallio) have decades of work on this field locally in Finland," Mauri explains.
How does it work? NatureGate's worldwide patented identification system enables users to enter "where" and "when" they observed a flower or bird, as well as details of its colour, shape and size. With every added observation, the NatureGate site automatically narrows down the number of possible species, until only a handful of illustrated examples are left, making it easy for the users to compare images and pick out their sighting. NatureGate is also developing a mobile application for palm-top computers, which can be used to rapidly identify species out in nature.
NatureGate is looking for partners in different countries in order to widen the system to cover new areas and new species groups. The team welcomes questions from IUCN and its Commission members.