RBGE’s Flora of Nepal team have partnered with vegetation ecologist Elizabeth Byers, Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, and High Country Apps to produce Wildflowers of Mount Everest, the first-ever plant identification mobile app for the country. The app focuses on Sagarmatha National Park and Buffer Zone which is famously dominated by Mount Everest and home to the Sherpa people. Less well-known, but equally spectacular, are its beautiful rhododendron-filled forests and alpine flowers.
The Flora of Nepal is ‘born digital’ – pioneering the use of biodiversity informatics to record, manage and communicate data, both electronically and in print. The country’s 7,000 species are being documented in 10 printed volumes and all information is made freely available at www.floraofnepal.org. The Flora of Nepal contributed data, images, and botanical expertise to the Wildflowers of Mount Everest app and we hope that it will be the model for future versions covering other regions of Nepal.
Wildflowers of Mount Everest offers easy-to-use graphical keys, botanical help, detailed descriptions, and plant lore to identify and explore Nepal’s remarkable flora. The app doesn’t require a phone signal or internet connection to run, so it can be used anywhere, whether on the trail or at home. Users can create a list of the plants they see each day and email it to themselves or their friends.
Designed for people who are complete beginners as well as experienced botanists, Wildflowers of Mount Everest will appeal to anyone who wants to identify or learn about plants in eastern Nepal. According to Gopal Prakash Bhattarai, the Director General of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Nepal, the app is suitable for “students, educators, scientists, guides, and visitors interested in the beautiful wildflowers of Nepal’s Mount Everest region.” Mr. Bhattarai also notes that the app will be a “useful tool for park rangers and scouts as they work to conserve the park’s floral diversity.”
“Two things make this field guide special,” says Elizabeth Byers, who has spent much of the last 40 years identifying, photographing, and cataloging specimens of the subalpine and alpine flora of eastern Nepal. “First, the Sherpa elders who have graciously shared plant lore and stories to give us a glimpse of the cultural importance of each species. Second, the botanical experts from all over the world who have volunteered their knowledge to help us understand the unique and specially-adapted plants of Mount Everest.”
The Wildflowers of Mount Everest app is available from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store for $7.99. The authors will periodically update the app to include new species and other content, at no additional charge to users.
Link to High Country Apps: http://www.highcountryapps.com/WildflowersOfMountEverest.aspx
Direct links to the app in stores:
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.emountainworks.android.everestfieldguide
Elizabeth Byers & Colin Pendry