Citizen Science

Help us monitor and document biodiversity in Conservation Covenants

ITC staff Jemma Green observes a slug making its way across a mossy log

The islands in the Salish Sea contain incredible biodiversity. Unfortunately, they are also a hotspot for biodiversity loss. More than 300 species are listed as being at risk of extinction in the Islands Trust Area—and there is still so much we don’t know about these species and ecosystems!

Citizen science can help provide much-needed data that supports scientists and land managers who are working to better understand the state of biodiversity on the islands.

Citizen scientists have helped to discover new species, track invasive species, advocate for land protection, record rare and at-risk species, and more. By sharing your pictures of nature on citizen science apps, you can help scientists better understand and protect the ecosystems, plants, animals, and fungi with which we share the land and sea.

Privately held conservation covenants are full of natural wonders, but many go unobserved and still more go undocumented.

While we do our best to document all we can during our annual monitoring surveys of conservation covenants, we know that we cannot observe all the incredible species on the land through this seasonal ‘snapshot’ in the same way that you can year-round.

To improve our understanding and stewardship of biodiversity, Islands Trust Conservancy has created an iNaturalist project and we encourage you to get involved! The project will collect all iNaturalist observations made within covenant boundaries by participating landowners, covenant holders, and other land stewards. By joining the project, you can:

  • Create an interactive record of your nature explorations
  • Learn more about the species and ecosystems around you
  • Browse observations from other covenant landowners and engage with them
  • Help identify other observations made in your area
  • Contribute to our understanding of the biodiversity found in your conservation covenant – including rare, at-risk, and invasive species.

Join the Islands Trust Conservancy project on iNaturalist!

The steps to join are simple and we are here to help you every step of the way.

  1. Create a free account with iNaturalist*
  2. Email us to let us know that you are interested in including your conservation covenant in our project on iNaturalist—be sure to include your name, email and iNaturalist username.
  3. We will add your covenant to the project and invite you to be an administrator using your iNaturalist account username. We will email you with detailed instructions on how to join your project once it’s ready.
  4. Log into iNaturalist and join your project.
  5. Join the ITC iNaturalist project on iNaturalist (see detailed instructions in our help guide below).
  6. Start uploading your observations to iNaturalist. Any observations that you make within the covenant boundaries will automatically be “collected” into your covenant project and visible to both you and Islands Trust Conservancy.
Snapshot of the Islands Trust Conservancy project leaderboard showing total number of observations on the iNaturalist project.
Snapshot of the Islands Trust Conservancy project on iNaturalist, November 2022.

*iNaturalist is a free, independent app that is simple to download and easy to use. It is not owned by or affiliated with Islands Trust Conservancy. By engaging in the app, you agree to iNaturalist’s terms and conditions and privacy policy.  Please ensure you read and agree to these policies when downloading the app.

Want help completing these steps? Download our handy toolkit

ITC iNaturalist Toolkit

VIEW (PDF 1547 KB)

What is iNaturalist?

Citizen science apps provide a way for stewards to learn about and connect with the land in new ways while documenting valuable biodiversity data to inform conservation scientists. Citizen scientists have helped to discover new species, track invasive species, and protect land for species-at-risk.

Many of these apps are free and accessible to anyone with a smartphone (or a digital camera and computer) with access to the internet. One app that has been field tested by ITC staff that seems to cover it all, from aquatic and terrestrial plants and animals, to fungi, to feces and tracks, is iNaturalist.

iNaturalist is a free citizen science platform that can be accessed through a website or smartphone app hosted by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society. You can use it to record your observations of plants and wildlife and get help identifying the biodiversity around you. You can also search the millions of observations and data collected by iNaturalist users around the world and connect with species experts and nature enthusiasts who can help you learn more about nature while contributing to our understanding of biodiversity.

*iNaturalist is a free, independent app that is simple to download and easy to use. It is not owned by or affiliated with Islands Trust Conservancy. By engaging in the app, you agree to iNaturalist’s terms and conditions and privacy policy.  Please ensure you read and agree to these policies when downloading the app.