Hogweed is a poisonous invasive weed in Latvia that poses significant threat to
biodiversity and human health. Local residents are afraid and have very special
concerns about the safety of their children because the plant causes
phytophotodermatitis (severe burns), painful blistering, permanent scarring and
blindness when the sap of the plant comes in contact with the human body and is
exposed to sunlight. This study utilizes public participation GIS (PPGIS)
involving Latvian high school students as data collectors to monitor the
geographic distribution of Giant Hogweed in Northeast Latvia. This paper also
explores challenges with implementing such a public program, how to maximize
participation, and how participation impacts environmental awareness of
participants. In this study we also assessed the accuracy of PPGIS-collected
data and how the utilization of such data impacts mapping and monitoring of
Giant Hogweed in the study area. Results indicate that this PPGIS program is
effective in facilitating data collection for monitoring Giant Hogweed in
Latvia. Tested methods of increasing participation have proven largely
unsuccessful to date. Statistical analyses of survey responses indicate
participation had a marked effect on sensitivity towards environmental issues.
Accuracy assessments indicate that quality of point data collected by
participants is sufficient for mapping and for use as ground verification.
Cite this paper
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, 135-149. doi: 10.4236/jgis.2014.62015
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