Tech change on our Pender Islands Big Tree project

Looking up, up into the tree tops of trees on Pender Island with the blue sky in the background and the iNaturalist logo in the foreground.

Photo by Alex Harris / Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

We’ve had to make changes to the way our Pender Islands Big Tree project is set up on iNaturalist. We knew this was likely to happen and that’s what pilot projects are for.

There are two project types on iNaturalist: Collection project and Traditional projects. 

The collection-based project is newer and requires less effort to add observations to projects. Essentially, the project manager creates a species list and sets a geographic boundary for the project and those that join will see their observations land in the project automatically.  This made sense for us at the time and so that’s how we organized the iNaturalist project initially.

But there were two problems with this. First, all observations made by any Pender Islands Big Tree Registry participant were landing on the project page, even the ones they didn’t mean to add. Second, iNaturalist obscures the location of all species at risk to protect that species from harm. Cool, right? As it happens, there are some tree species on Pender that are at risk, and those trees would not land on our project page due to their location appearing in the middle of the Salish Sea rather than on Pender Island.

So, along with our partners from within Pender Earth, we made the decision to switch to a Traditional Project in iNaturalist. While less glitzy than Collection Projects, Traditional projects require iNaturalist users to manually add their observations to the projects they have joined. While this means a little more effort for our volunteers, it also means that the data we collect will be more accurate.

One forum thread that was helpful for us to make this decision: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/adding-observations-to-a-traditional-project-wiki/13190

Let us know if you have questions about submitting new observations.

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