Canadian Wildlife Federation sets new goals for Citizen Science in 2021

“There are about 100,000 people signed up … we need to keep up the momentum in 2021.”

James Pagé

James Pagé

The results are in.

Despite the pandemic, or maybe because of it, 2020 was an amazing year for iNaturalist Canada, and experts are hopeful participation will continue to multiply.

The interactive program, which allows scientists and the general public to collaborate, contribute photos of wildlife and learn about nature, now has more than four million observations of more than 27,000 wildlife species in Canada.

There are about 100,000 people signed up.

This is a huge increase from last year.

But we need to keep up the momentum in 2021.

The Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) has set a goal of five million observations by May 22, International Day of Biodiversity, and is hoping to see a real boost from the City Nature Challenge Canada taking place from April 30 to May 3.

So far, 25 Canadian cities have registered. Find out more by visiting CityNatureChallenge.ca.

The observations gathered by everyday people are critical to our understanding of how the pandemic has affected the behaviors of wildlife and people.

There have been some significant finds on iNaturalist this year, such as the first occurrence in North America of the invasive Elm Zigzag Sawfly that is now being tracked to help prevent the species from taking hold in Canada.

Since its launch in 2015, iNaturalist Canada uptake has grown exponentially.

Keeping with this trend, at the end of 2019 there were about two million observations and 60,000 people contributing.

By the end of 2020, participation roughly doubled.

The pandemic has encouraged the public to spend more time in nature and has allowed some wildlife populations to benefit from reduced traffic and noise.

Scientists continue to monitor populations and are relying on citizens to help be their eyes and ears in all the provinces and territories.

As more and more people record their observations in iNaturalist Canada, we are making a difference for Canada’s wildlife by building a living record of life that scientists and environmental managers can use to monitor and conserve our biodiversity.

Through the free iNaturalist app and iNaturalist.ca, the public can upload photos and sound recordings of wildlife and plants, which are then automatically identified and reviewed by experts online.

James Pagé, species at risk and biodiversity specialist with the CWF

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