Rainforest Alliance Online Database Now Includes More Than 1,000 Conservation Projects in the Americas
The Eco-Index, an online database of conservation projects in the Americas created by the Rainforest Alliance, now features more than 1,000 projects in English and Spanish. The site also recently started including projects in the United States and Canada, making it the premiere vehicle for the conservation community to share information about initiatives in the Americas.
"As the number of projects to conserve tropical ecosystems continues to grow and the pinch on our natural resources tightens, it is crucial to share information and learn from each others' lessons," said Diane Jukofsky, director of communications, marketing and education at the Rainforest Alliance. "Researchers in the Americas can use the Eco-Index to learn from others who have worked on similar projects and avoid duplicating efforts and missteps."
The Eco-Index has grown steadily since it was launched in January 2001 with 70 projects. Now, the 1,000 plus projects in the database represent the work of more than 700 non-governmental organizations, research institutions, and government ministries in the Americas. Project profiles outline contact information, summaries, objectives, funders, budget, accomplishments, lessons learned, methodology, links and reports.
"The Eco-Index is different from other information-sharing initiatives in the region, as it goes beyond listing hard data," said Melissa Krenke, Eco-Index project coordinator. "In addition to reports and publications, the Eco-Index comprehensively describes valuable information about project methodologies, lessons learned and conclusions. Non-science based projects, such as those managed by community organizations, are also developing creative conservation approaches. We believe it is just as important to share information about these innovative and effective projects as it is to share hard numbers."
The Eco-Index also offers a variety of other resources to conservation researchers. Users can check out a bimonthly bulletin called the Eco-Exchange about environmental issues and success stories in the Americas and read interviews with conservation leaders and field staff. For example, featured on the Web site in July was an article about a biologist from the Wildlife Conservation Society who worked for the past nine years on developing a survey of sharks and rays in southern Belize and measuring their historical population decline through surveys with fishermen. The biologist hopes to use her findings to encourage the Belizean government to develop shark- and ray-specific management plans that help ensure the species' continued survival.
Users can also subscribe to a monthly e-newsletter in English or Spanish that lists new projects that have been added to the Eco-Index. An average of 20 projects are added or updated on the Eco-Index each month.
The Eco-Index is also home to the Western Hemisphere Migratory Species Initiative (WHMSI) Pathway, a clearinghouse of information about migratory species conservation in the Americas; and the Eco-Index of Sustainable Tourism, a searchable database of sustainable tourism operations in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Project directors can submit descriptions of their projects on questionnaires available on the site or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Eco-Index staff fact check, edit and translate the questionnaires into English and Spanish. Brazil-based project profiles are also translated into Portuguese.
The Eco-Index is sponsored by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service's International Division and Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act; the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Coral Reef Conservation Fund; the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund; the Inter-American Development Bank; the Spray Foundation; and the Global Environment Facility's Small Grants Program of Costa Rica.