To join the Big Nature Challenge, all participants have to do is take photos of plants, animals, fungi, insects, tracks, animal feces, or other species and signs of wildlife, and upload those images to iNaturalist, eBird or WhaleReport, either through a smart phone app or desktop platform. (B.C. Big Nature Challenge screenshot via BC Parks Foundation)

To join the Big Nature Challenge, all participants have to do is take photos of plants, animals, fungi, insects, tracks, animal feces, or other species and signs of wildlife, and upload those images to iNaturalist, eBird or WhaleReport, either through a smart phone app or desktop platform. (B.C. Big Nature Challenge screenshot via BC Parks Foundation)

BC Parks Foundation has collected 950,000 wildlife pics, thanks to outdoor enthusiasts

Foundation launched B.C.’s Big Nature Challenge to learn, understand conservation needs

If COVID-19 has highlighted anything, it is how important nature and outdoor spaces are to a person’s physical and mental wellbeing. The BC Parks Foundation is hoping outdoor enthusiasts can help them out by taking photos of plants and insects during their excursions to help learn more about the province’s ecosystems.

Earlier this spring, the foundation launched B.C.’s Big Nature Challenge, with the goal of collecting one million photos from all across the province.

When a person comes across a plant or insect they are unfamiliar with, they can upload the observation to iNaturalist, and a team of identifiers, along with iNaturalist’s artificial intelligence technology, will help determine the species.

To join the Big Nature Challenge, all participants have to do is take photos of plants, animals, fungi, insects, tracks, animal feces, or other species and signs of wildlife, and upload those images to iNaturalist, eBird or WhaleReport, either through a smart phone app or desktop platform.

Andrew Day, the foundation’s chief executive officer, said B.C. has one of the planet’s largest systems of parks and protected areas, along with a greater diversity of life than anywhere else in Canada.

“British Columbians have the chance to do something really ground-breaking,” said Day. “Something that could lead the world in showing the power of people acting separately, and together.”

In the current social media-era, many nature and outdoor enthusiasts already take photos when they are out exploring, so uploading is an easy extra step, said Day.

Emma Griggs, program manager for the B.C. parks foundation, told Black Press Media that with the help of explorers, the organization has identified 1,200 threatened or endangered species on iNaturalist within the last year.

Almost 600,000 observations have been collected in less than six months. The group has reached a total of 952,373 observations as of Sept. 30 – highlighting the importance of citizen science.

One spot that stands out to Griggs led researchers to identifying the rare grapple-tail dragonfly.

“It wasn’t seen for 40 years until a group of researchers were out this summer and saw 16 of them,” said Griggs. She said that there are many stories similar to this one, identifying species they didn’t think would be in that specific area anymore.

The organization originally thought the goal of one million photos was a longshot. However, British Columbians came through as usual, said Griggs.

“Ultimately, the dream would be for us to go to the UN Congress of Biodiversity,” said Griggs. “We want to present the campaign and the results as a sign of leadership and motivation for other provinces, states or countries.”

Next year, the foundation wants to keep the campaign going and hopefully double the amount of photos, aiming for two million.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Harrison Hot Springs Resort employees continue to await word on labour negotiations. (Grace Kennedy/Observer)
Hospitality workers in Harrison, beyond await word on labour negotiations

UNITE HERE Local 40 reps say lockout notice still in effect

Chilliwack’s COVID case count drops in the latest report from the BC Centre for Disease Control. (BCCDC graphic)
Chilliwack’s weekly COVID case count drops as Abbotsford’s goes up

While case counts are dropping province wide, our closest neighbours to the west defied the trend

Youth-Led Summit May 20-21 to tackle inclusion and accessibility for Chilliwack youth. (YAC)
Youth-led summit tackles inclusion and accessibility for Chilliwack youth

‘This is a chance to listen to youth and hear what they have to say,’ says Chilliwack Youth

Ripy Jubbal of Abbotsford has received a 30-month jail sentence for the fraudulent use of credit cards and credit card data. (Facebook photo)
Abbotsford woman sentenced for $80K in fraudulent credit card purchases

Ripy Jubbal and spouse used identities of 19 different victims, court hears

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. (File photo)
UPDATE: 2 cougars killed following attack in Harrison Mills

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O���Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

(Kamloops This Week file photo)
Federal police unit takes over probe of B.C. regional district’s spending

Financial Integrity Sensitive Investigations Unit is now reviewing the case

A black bear made a visit to downtown Vancouver Tuesday, May 4. The animal was spotted on train tracks in Gastown shortly after at 2:30 p.m. (Twitter/Craig Minielly)
VIDEO: Black bear spotted meandering around downtown Vancouver

The bear was reportedly tranquilized by conservation officers Tuesday afternoon

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Interior Health locks out Kelowna martial arts gym following COVID violations

Actions were taken after all other steps to gain compliance were exhausted, says health authority

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE – A plexiglass barrier is pictured creating a barrier to protect a cashier at a grocery store in North Vancouver, B.C. Sunday, March 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Grocery store workers now eligible for COVID vaccines in Fraser Health, Vancouver Coastal

Workers will be fast-tracked through the system, which is otherwise booking for people in their 50s

A man who allegedly spat at and yelled racial slurs at an Asian family was arrested for hate-motivated assault Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
Arrest made after man spits, yells anti-Asian racial slurs at Victoria mom and kids

The man was arrested for hate-motivated assault near Quadra Elementary School Tuesday

A lady wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada may find it challenging to reach herd immunity from COVID-19, experts say

Level of immunity among the population changes with the variants, especially the more transmissible strains

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

Most Read