M Ferreira

Joined: Aug 04, 2020 Last Active: Oct 24, 2021 BioDiversity4All

A Maths teacher who once wanted to be a climatologist in order to study climate change and prevent biodiversity loss.

In the mid-1990's, James Lovelock's "Gaia theory" made me aware of how the humblest living species can be essencial for global balance and sustainability; at that time, climate change seemed to be the biggest threat to biodiversity. Since then, however, everyday observations have turned my attention to another more urgent threat (in many ways related to climate change but distinct from it): invasion by alien species. In vast areas of Portugal (such as the Lousã mountain range), invasive alien species (often just one or two dominant species) occupy more than half the available space (nearly 100% at some spots), reducing biodiversity to unbelievably low levels.

During the last half of 2019, most of my spare time was dedicated to the project "Plantas Invasoras em Portugal", http://invasoras.pt : I walked hundreds of miles in the mountains and plains, took thousands of photos and added nearly a thousand sightings of invasive alien species to the database. At some point this thought came to my mind: "I know more about invasive alien species than I know about native species!" A few weeks ago I learned about iNaturalist... and now here I am exploring this wonderful platform to learn more about native vegetation.

Since August 2019 I've been trying to engage other people and the local authorities in an effort to halt the expansion of alien species and preserve or restore the native forest in the Lousã mountain range. My contributions to iNaturalist are focused on that purpose, on several fronts:

  • to identify patches with highest biodiversity and lowest presence of invasive alien species, in order to preserve those patches of native vegetation;
  • to keep track of the presence of invasive aliens species and their expansion, in order to assess the level of threat to the few remaining patches of native vegetation;
  • to collect evidence about what was or was not done against the invasion, in order to hold the land owners and local authorities accountable for their inaction or wrongdoing.

If you are also worried about the loss of biodiversity (due to invasion by alien species, forest fires, climate change - which exacerbates the previous two - or other causes), please help me by validating or correcting my identifications. I'm not a botanicist and I may get it wrong many times, but I definitely want to learn more about plants and other species while they are here with us on the same planet.

Thank you.

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