University of Victoria researcher Geneviève Reynolds uses the iNaturalist app in Goldstream Provincial Park. (Kelly Fretwell/BC Parks Foundation)

More than 1,600 use ‘personal nature interpreter’ app to identify 4,200 species in B.C. parks

App helps identify plants and animals, crowdsource biodiversity data

Do your plant identification skills start and end with Charlie Brown Christmas tree sightings? The iNaturalist app may be for you, especially now that it’s being promoted through the BC Parks iNaturalist project.

Through the project, team members have input the boundaries of every provincial park and protected area in B.C. so that visitors of all backgrounds can use their phone or camera to photograph and help identify plants and animals, categorized by location.

“For those of us who love parks, but don’t have a scientific background, the iNaturalist app is great because the powerful AI technology can help identify the species you’ve photographed,” said Colleen Dunbar of the BC Parks Foundation.

READ MORE: BC Parks Foundation board begins work

Dunbar said BC Parks, the foundation as well as the Simon Fraser Universty (SFU) and Universty of Victoria (UVic) are encouraging more people to become “citizen scientists” using the app next time they visit a B.C. park or protected area. More important than seeming smart in front of your hiking friends, she said citizen scientists can use the app to crowdsource species observations, such as animal migration patterns and even the effects of climate change.

“iNaturalist serves as your very own personal nature interpreter – you take a photo on your phone, have the app scan the photo with its powerful artificial intelligence, and it will suggest a species ID for you,” added UVic’s Brian Starzomski, project co-lead.

“Even better, you become a citizen scientist when you upload your observation to iNaturalist, where it will be automatically added to the BC Parks project, creating a massive new inventory of biodiversity information for all British Columbians.”

So far more than 67,000 observations of over 4,200 species have been catalogued by over 1,600 observers through the project. Citizen scientists have observed a very out of range northern mockingbird on Goose Island near Bella Bella, for example, and the first record of the endangered plains forktail damselfly in B.C. on iNaturalist.

A community of keen citizen scientists called “identifiers” confirm the identity of species that have been documented and help correct any errors and ensure as many observations are research grade as possible.

Researchers at SFU and UVic then study those findings and help provide recommendation to BC Parks management decisions as a result.

“It’s through the power of numbers that we will build a new understanding of what is out there and how it is changing in the face of climate change and other pressures,” said foundation CEO Andrew Day.

“Every visitor makes a difference by adding a piece of the puzzle, and soon we can see the picture.”

To become a citizen scientist visit bcparksfoundation.ca/inaturalist.

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

Just Posted

Peninsula farm stands open for business with COVID-19 restrictions

Growers hopeful shoppers will support local farms

Income tax deadline looming

2019 individual tax returns are due June 1, June 15 for self-employed individuals

Langford’s City Centre Park cautiously reopens most activities as of Friday

Ice rink, bowling alley and restaurant to follow new regulations

VIDEO: Langford man battling cancer honored with hot rod, motorcycle procession

Friends and family support Patrick O’Hara on his 73rd birthday

‘Seven baths in two days’: Homeless adjusting to life in hotels

Victoria passes motion to allow camping 24-7 in parks until June 25

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

POLL: Do you agree with the provincial government’s decision to increase the minimum wage?

B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a few more dollars to try… Continue reading

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

COLUMN: Canada needs to remember rural communities as thoughts turn to pandemic recovery

Small towns often rely on tourism, which has been decimated by COVID-19

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

As SD84 schools look to reopen, Kyuquot and Zeballos opt out

Schools in Tahsis and Gold River will open on June 1, with 30 per cent students expected to come in

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

Most Read