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

The Skeena Queen, serving the Swartz Bay-Fulford Harbour route has been out of action since early Wednesday morning, forcing BC Ferries to cancel eight sailings connecting the Saanich Peninsula and Salt Spring Island. It is not clear when service will resume. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
BC Ferries cancels sailings between Greater Victoria and Salt Spring Island

With repairs to Skeena Queen underway, it is not clear when service will resume

Victoria police ticketed and impounded the vehicles of two drivers after they were caught speeding through a school zone. (Black Press Media file photo)
Two drivers caught doing nearly triple the speed limit in Victoria school zone

Almost $1,000 in fines, vehicle impounded for each motorist

Michael Arthor Leighton is wanted by the Saanich Police Department for assault. (Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers/Twitter)
Police seek man wanted for assault in Saanich, multiple charges in other jurisdictions

Michael Arthor Leighton is known to travel around the Island, Saanich police say

Lookout Lake water levels are low as the dam undergoes upgrades. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Colwood dam upgrades projected to be under budget

Province designates Lookout Brook as a high consequence dam should it fail

The Turkey Head Walkway. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Oak Bay community sees untapped potential in Turkey Head

Part 3 of a closer look at Oak Bay Marina and Turkey Head

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
Brody Peterson said he intends to dispute tickets issued by Grand Forks RCMP at his backyard “house warming” Saturday, Oct. 10. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Brody Peterson told The Gazette he intends to dispute tickets issued by Grand Forks RCMP at his backyard “house warming” Saturday, Oct. 10. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks RCMP recommend criminal charges after weekend party

Homeowner Brody Peterson said he’ll dispute tickets for refusing police instructions, alleged COVID violations

A glimpse of some of the 480 (approx) cars written off as a result of the acid spills along the Trail highway in 2018. Photo: Trail Times
Kootenay Ford dealer’s frustration grows with ICBC

Trail AM Ford owner Dan Ashman says he just wants fair compensation from ICBC

Mail-in ballot from Elections BC (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
At least 26% of eligible voters have already cast a ballot, Elections BC says

Voters can cast a ballot until 8 p.m PST on Election Day

A 2018 decision to fly a rainbow flag ended up costing the City of Langley $62,000 in legal fees (Langley Advance Times file)
Human rights win in rainbow flag fight cost B.C. city $62,000

“Lengthy and involved” process provoked by complaint

Spawning salmon have returned to local streams. (The Canadian Press)
TOP 5: Suggestions for your week ahead

This week – storytime, politics and wildlife

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau and his family decide against trick-or-treating this year due to COVID

Adhering to local health authorities, Trudeau urges Canadians to do their part in following those guidelines

Surrey RCMP cruisers outside a Newton townhouse Tuesday night. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Toddler in hospital, woman dead following stabbings at Surrey townhouse

Police say two-year-old was among victims found at townhouse complex in the 12700-block of 66 Avenue

Most Read