Planning on doing some work with Isaac on the butterflies of our study area. I'm already going to be stretched with getting to grips with local bird calls and identification so that I can try and get some background levels to try and pick out anything interesting from. The plan with the butterflies is to create a photo specimen collection - which we could use for some local information material and draw up local lists.
We can use Ebird to set up new birding hotspots (if we discover any) and basically populate public resources like Ebird, xeno-canto, International Bird Collection with any data we collect. If anything is worthy of a write up there's The African Bird Club or the Lepidopterist Society of Africa and of course daily news on blogs and social media. For entomology, global systems have yet to evolve so we can create on line repositories for local information and then transfer it over when they are invented.
I'm always keen to use every day technology to do grass roots research and engagement. It's really important to display how simple it is with making a significant contribution to natural history and how to take ownership of conservation. Really important to see traditional research centres, institutions, conservation organisations and Universities for the clumsy and inefficient things they are and how connecting modern popular natural history research technology with traditional power houses is a really important way of making good progress.
Its more difficult to move from data collection to habitat acquisition and then activating that resource but the starting point is data and then connecting that to enterprise- there's even crowd sourcing options available and the block chain could present important opportunities for conservation. The ultimate aim in Ghana would be to acquire some forest and promote public engagement. To do that need to find some forest with some USP- Unique Selling Points- i.e. we need to find some specialities. By looking at Birds, Butterflies and Moths we are increasing our chances. If we have success it will be people power conservation at its biggest impact- needless to say the Tropics is the global biodiversity hot belt.
I agree that social media is mainly a sewer but there are some very useful and easy to use features which are public and can be used to invite validation, comment and publicity. I think what Roger Morris and Co have done with UK Hoverflies is nothing short of heroic and such open, transparent and engaging approaches to natural history is a real challenge on Scientific Community pretentiousness and data/information protectionism. The challenge is to create these structures on a sustainable basis (UK Hoverflies is a success due to the unsustainable commitment of several key volunteers) so linking these systems with employment is important.
Basically here's the start of my specimen collection of butterflies on facebook.