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

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Screen shot of a cabin somewhere in the Bulkley Valley from rare 1955 film footage of the area.
VIDEO: More rare film footage of the Bulkley Valley in 1955

Can you help identify the locations and/or people in these videos

Shea Long roosts in the Shoot Out in the Telkwa Range. (SnoRiders, Houston/Shea Long photo)
Telkwa Range snowmobiling permit lottery opens

Application period is Oct. 20 to Nov. 20 for snowmobiliers and skiers to gain access to Starr Basin

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

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

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Most Read