Washington, D.C. (October, 2008) – ConserveOnline, a free, public resource for the conservation community, enhances the effectiveness of global conservation efforts by fostering active collaboration among people working on common problems, and by promoting the free and open sharing of conservation information and knowledge. The Nature Conservancy announced plans to release the source code for ConserveOnline as open source under the terms of the GNU GPL license. Enfold Systems, Inc, the world’s premier provider of Plone based content management systems (“CMS”), teamed with The Nature Conservancy to make real the vision of Conserve Online. This informative and collaborative tool began as an internal resource for scientists at The Nature Conservancy in 2000. Now it is much, much more.
The Conservancy soon realized that simply sharing information internally was not sufficient to meet the organization's conservation goals. So in 2001, ConserveOnline became a means for sharing conservation information and experience with others in the field and the general public. The first public version used commercial software, but this became prohibitively expensive and too inflexible for the changing needs of the conservation community, so they moved ConserveOnline to the open source CMS tool, Plone in 2004. They utilized an unmodified installation of Plone until 2006, when they received a grant from Oracle Corporation to redesign ConserveOnline from the ground up, which was completed in April, 2008
ConserveOnline Benefits TNC and the Conservation Community
Conservation organizations like The Nature Conservancy realized that in order to reach their goals they needed to be much better at sharing relevant and useful information, both within their organizations and with the broader conservation community. The Conservancy and others joined together to create the Conservation Commons (www.conservationcommons.org) and to promote a set of principles for promoting free and open access to conservation information. ConserveOnline supports this crucial transformation in the way conservation organizations think about how they work.
ConserveOnline now has thousands of visitors from around the world each week, more than 6,000 registered users worldwide, and hundreds of those users have created workspaces on the site so they can be more effective at communicating about what they do and how well they are doing it. David Williams, GIS Program Manager, African Wildlife Foundation says “The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) is using two workspaces on ConserveOnline to support its conservation programs and share data collection protocols, training materials, maps, and GIS data with AWF staff and partners. The versatility of the site streamlines the workload of staff by making resources accessible from a single location with variable levels of access suited to different users.”
The ease of using ConserveOnline means conservation staff in the field can find and share information quickly, so they can spend less time online and more time solving real conservation problems. The ability to find useful information online also means that more and more conservation scientists and practitioners are seeing the value in making their own data and expertise available to others, which is helping to shift the culture of conservation to one that is more open, transparent, and collaborative. “ConserveOnline allows me to get out a lot of information to a wide audience. Not only is this convenient, but it also makes our conservation process more transparent. An added benefit is that I get more feedback from scientists and lay people alike. I think this strengthens the science we are doing on the Zumwalt Prairie,” comments Rob Taylor, TNC ecologist at the Zumwalt Prairie Preserve, Oregon.
The Nature Conservancy had plans to use the tool to give back to the community of open source since inception. Having benefited from license free open source software, Plone CMS, The Nature Conservancy wanted all to benefit from the wonderful results of the project.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 15 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 102 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org. For more information contact Blythe Thomas, Associate Director, Media Relations, [email protected], (703) 841-8782 (703) 841-1283 (Fax)
Enfold Systems, Inc., the premier provider of open source content management systems, enables organizations to reuse existing infrastructure and manage information using open source software. Enfold delivers services, hosting and products, based on the Plone Content Management System (www.plone.org), tailored to meet the needs of business, government and non-profit organizations. For more information, go to http://www.enfoldsystems.com or contact Enfold at 713-942-2377 x155 or [email protected].