Nature Conservancy of Canada Takes Conservation Digital
Now the public can help nature conservation in Ontario, just by using their cellphones
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) in Ontario is launching a new citizen science project through the popular nature app iNaturalist. On January 20, 2020, the national land conservation organization will be adding 28 conservation properties in Ontario, as well as 17 of NCC’s priority natural areas, to the iNaturalist database in order to encourage Ontarians to help the non-profit monitor and manage some of its key conservation lands (you can view them here).
iNaturalist is a citizen science project and mobile app built on the concept of mapping and sharing observations of wildlife and biodiversity across the globe. Observations may be added via mobile phone or on the iNaturalist website. The observations provide valuable data to scientific research projects, conservation agencies, other organizations and the public.
The Canadian branch of iNaturalist (inaturalist.ca) has almost 57,000 users and over two million species records in Canada. Within Ontario, there are almost 27,000 users and just over one million species records. The popularity of iNaturalist has grown significantly in recent years, as its ease of use and handy photo recognition software makes it an amazing tool for learning about nature.
NCC’s Ontario iNaturalist project will help collect the public’s wildlife observations on NCC lands. Each NCC property will have an individual webpage, highlighting local species and features of the area. The project will allow Ontarians to learn more about the natural history of the area and to easily share species observations with NCC staff.
NCC has already been using iNaturalist data to inform their conservation work for some time. In New Brunswick, NCC has been using iNaturalist to track wildlife movements on NCC lands. In Ontario, staff have been using the app to engage the public in nature appreciation, to document biodiversity of newly acquired conservation properties and to be alerted to new populations of invasive species.
NCC’s Ontario iNaturalist project can be found here:
ON Region Projects
Anyone wishing to add to the project can download the iNaturalist app on Android or iOS and then go visit a nearby NCC property.
“iNaturalist can be a really fun way to engage with the natural world,” says Mhairi McFarlane, director of science and stewardship for NCC in Ontario. “You can challenge yourself to see how many species you can spot over a given time period or in a given area. It can really help identification skills, too; volunteer reviewers check the data you are submitting and provide you with feedback on your identification.”
“When dealing with invasive species, early detection is key,” says Liv Monck-Whipp, a conservation biologist with NCC in southwestern Ontario. “By monitoring species data from the public, we have that much more ability to find out about new invasive populations before they get out of hand.”
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation's leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect 14 million hectares (35 million acres), coast to coast to coast, with more than 84,000 hectares (207,000 acres) in Ontario. To learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca.
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