5 Years Ragweed Finder: From the Idea to the official reporting tool of Ambrosia artemisiifolia
November 14, 2023
Ragweed (<i>Ambrosia artemisiifolia</i>), originally native to North America, was introduced to Europe in the 19<sup>th</sup> century through contaminated seed consignments. Since then, this invasive neophyte has rapidly spread, particularly in Eastern and Central Europe. In Austria, ragweed has been established since the 1970ies and has gained significant attention due to its high allergenicity and negative impacts on crop yields. Therefore, the Ragweed Finder platform was established in 2017 to inform allergy sufferers and policymakers about ragweed distribution. This platform, available as a website and app, allows citizen-scientists to document ragweed populations. The reporting process involves completing a checklist, after which experts review the reports. Verified findings are collected and forwarded to the local authorities, who decide on further actions. Between 2017 and 2021, over 5000 reports were registered with a positivity rate of 91% resulting in the first legal regulation that deals with the control of ragweed in the federal state of Burgenland. The Ragweed Finder has since become the official reporting platform to enforce this law.
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