Lifewatch Europe is a programme on the roadmap of the European Strategic Forum of Research Infrastructure (ESFRI) programme. Lifewatch is providing e-Science research facilities to scientists seeking to increase their knowledge and deepen their understanding of Biodiversity organisation and Ecosystem functions and services in order to support civil society in addressing key planetary challenges.
Lifewatch Belgium is a part of Lifewatch Europe. Belgium contributes to LifeWatch with varied and complementary "in-kind" contributions. These are implemented under the form of long lasting projects by different research centers and universities spread over the country and supported by each respective political authority.
One of the Belgian projects is the Camera Trap Research Infrastructure (CaTrEIn). The FRC UHasselt is a partner in this INBO-UHasselt project.
In recent years the use of camera traps has become increasingly popular for monitoring wildlife behaviour, abundance and community structure. Camera traps allow for continuous non-invasive monitoring of species communities, without disturbing the animals. Compared to other monitoring methods, they require minimal staff input and recent quality improvements have made camera traps reliable research instruments. Nonetheless, not only do camera traps generate large quantities of pictures, one also has to identify species as well as number of individuals on those pictures. In order to allow both long term biodiversity monitoring and local research projects, data sharing is a prerequisite. Therefore data collection, storage and metadata processing have to be standardized and well documented.
CaTrEIn aims at providing the hardware (a set of high quality camera traps that can be used in different projects), in combination with a platform that allows the project management as well as annotation of camera trap images. Furthermore, a data pipeline will be developed to publish camera trap images as open data and provide archiving of the data.
Within the INBO-UHasselt research collaboration a set of wildlife camera traps are placed in the National Park Hoge Kempen.
NOTE: Should you find one of these camera's in the NPHK or its vicinities, please leave it there. If you have questions, feel free to contact us at any time.