Promotion of environmental education on the basis of collections of Estonian Museum of Natural History

The “Promotion of environmental education on the basis of collections of Estonian Museum of Natural History” program was aimed at providing teachers, instructors, officials, researchers, and other interested parties with a broad-based user-friendly database useful in learning about ecosystems and biodiversity.

Within the framework of the program, the Estonian Museum of Natural History’s specimens and photography collection of natural history related importance were digitalized and stored in PlutoF. The eBiodiversity web portal that displays Estonian biodiversity is also PlutoF based.

PlutoF is a data platform developed by the “Natural history archives and information network (NATARC)”, an Estonian research infrastructure of national importance, that assembles all of the larger natural history related collections in Estonia. PlutoF is a database that has a simple structure, is user-friendly, and employs a scientifically certified and continuously updates taxonomy, rendering the database a handy tool for nature lovers in learning about biodiversity, monitoring environmental changes, analyzing the spread of alien species etc. Knowing nature and its ecosystems, a person can make decision in a manner that would minimize the effects of human activity on biodiversity.

Within the framework of the program, the PlutoF database was developed into an easy-to-use system for general education and hobby education related purposes, and a photobank function was set up. In addition, a mobile application “My nature sound” was established, mediating knowledge stored in the database in an attractive and playful manner. In 2015, training courses were implemented for teachers in hobby education and formal education so as to provide for use of the database in studies.

In implementing the program, the Estonian Museum of Natural History was partnered by the University of Tartu Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden.

The program was funded within the framework of the “Development of Environmental Education” measure of the Operational Program “Human Resource Development” priority axes “Lifelong Learning”. The Minister of the Environment signed the program on December 12, 2013.