AUSTRALIA – A team of scientists from the University of NSW is encouraging people to put their screen time to good use by monitoring bush-fire affected ecosystems.
The Environment Recovery Project is being run by the Centre for Ecosystem Science and encourages anyone in fire-affected areas of Australia to participate, no matter their scientific knowledge or camera skills. The researchers are hoping to learn valuable lessons about the recovery of plants and animals affected by the bushfires to inform future research and aid conservation efforts.
To get involved, all you need is a mobile phone and the iNaturalist app, which is available via the iNaturalist website for both Android and iPhone users. Participants then take a photo of a bushfire-affected plant, animal or area and upload the image to the app.
The more people that participate, the greater amount of information the team at UNSW will have to analyse and work with. Casey Kirchhoff, PhD candidate at the Centre for Ecosystem Science and founder of the Environment Recovery Project after she was personally affected, said citizen scientists would help them overcome logistical difficulties in analysing the aftermath of the bushfires.
“The bushfires have burnt such a large area; it’s impossible to properly survey it with our current resources,” Kirchhoff said in a statement.
“The more observations we can collect, the more we will know about the impact of the fires on our environment – particularly in the major bushfire areas in southeastern Australia and right up to Queensland.”
The key aims of the initiative include understanding which plant species are quickest to resprout and grow species, calculating how and when fauna returns to burnt areas and highlight the species’ whose recovery is most at threat.
Find out more about the iNaturalist app and how to use it to help in bushfire recovery efforts.
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Author: Liam Taylor
Liam is Planet Ark’s Communications Coordinator. Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia.