Benefits of the Protea Atlas Project
Public Awareness: By involving amateur botanists in data collection, an awareness of man-influenced changes in the world will be heightened. This will bring to the fore conservation issues.
Conservation: Areas suitable for conservation will be identified, both by keen amateurs and from collected data, thus highlighting species and habits in need of urgent conservation. Local issues can quickly be identified and action taken or channelled through conservation agencies and NGOs.
Reserve Managers: Data collected by atlassers are of use to managers in terms of planning fire regimes, pinpointing and monitoring rare species, and determining optimal times for monitoring, burning and visiting species. Expensive and time-consuming data are being collected by a keen amateur work force.
Farmers and Private Landowners: Fynbos farming is now officially recognised by the Department of Agriculture as an agricultural practice. Many protea species are commercially grown or harvested from the veld. Data on picking levels will help monitor harvesting, and data on hybrids, sports, diseases, habitat preferences, flowering and growth times and geographical distribution will be useful to the development of superior cultivars and their conservation.
Tourism: Ecotourism is a major growth industry in the region. Already the "Smallest floral Kingdom" attracts more tourists than the big and hairy wildlife! Data on flowering times, ideal routes for seeing proteas and anecdotes on ecology, conservation and history will allow operators to meet the needs of a growing market.
Botany: A resurgence in amateur botany will result in a larger contribution to research and stimulate more people to become botanists. The data collected are used by botanists for designing research projects, planning field trips, and for undergraduate projects.