Can you tell me how to spot land clearing from aerial imagery?

Absolutely! Before we ask you to gather any data, we’ll take you through an interactive tutorial. You’ll then get a few practice runs and some feedback. Once you’re nailing the practice tasks, you can start on real images.

What if I’m not 100% sure I’m seeing land clearing?

Don’t worry if you’re not 100% sure, every image will be shown to multiple volunteer investigators to build consensus (i.e. multiple people have told us they can see clearing). If in doubt, err on the side of clicking the square.

Help! I want help from others to identify clearing

The best way to get help identifying clearing in a specific image is to post a request in the forum. Under any image, you can click the discuss button and a forum post will be automatically generated with a link to that image and a place for you to pop in your observations and questions.

What about bushfires, clouds and shadows?

When selecting the area we’re asking you to look at, we endeavour to control for habitat loss caused by bushfires. However, some images of bushfires might have snuck through. Check out the help section for guidance on telling the difference between clearing by people, and bushfires.

Our expert team has taken steps to avoid showing any satellite imagery with clouds obscuring the landscape, but in some cases it can’t be helped. Just click the squares where you see clearing, and don’t worry about the land that you can’t see.

Where there’s clouds, there’s shadows. Sometimes shadows can look like a burned or cleared patch. If there are clouds around, check if the shadows seem to correspond with any of the clouds.

Is all the land clearing in these images illegal?

No. Wildlife protection laws - and exemptions - are many and complex, and international, federal, state and local rules and permit systems are difficult to navigate. As far as we know, there’s no way to clearly map out across the country where any clearing above a certain threshold would be illegal. Because of that, we’ve narrowed down our search to areas where clearing events are more likely to be unlawful, or at least have significant impacts on rare and threatened wildlife and ecosystems of national public interest.

What will you do with the data?

Once we have consensus on whether land clearing has occurred, we’ll use the data to build evidence-based briefs on habitat destruction events, including the location, size and date(s) of clearing, what rare and threatened species lived there, any clearing permits that were approved, filed or should have been filed, any EPBC referrals that exist for that clearing, legal exemptions, land zones and ownership, and potential culprits. It’s a lot, we know! We’ll then hand that brief over to the parties best able to action that information, including federal, state and local government authorities, compliance officers, and the media. The briefs will include the fact that this clearing was identified by volunteers as part of this project, but that’s it—they won’t contain any user IDs, display names or personal information.

Why do I need to register?

Registering makes your contribution count. By being able to identify each volunteer as unique, we can make sure we don’t show you the same image twice and show the image to multiple people to check for agreement (aka consensus) about where clearing is or is not occurring.

It also means you can discuss images in our forum and keep track of your stats. Your personal details won’t be shared with other volunteers – the only thing they’ll see is your display name, which you choose.

When (and where) is the habitat I'm looking at?

We wanted to build a tool that would be simple, accessible and lead to consistent data. We want to know if you can see habitat clearing at this level of detail, without extra information about the location, habitat type, or exact date(s) the satellite imagery was taken. Once you’ve detected possible land clearing, our team of experienced investigators will begin a detailed investigation. In the meantime, you can keep investigating to generate more leads for our investigators to look into.

After I start, can I watch the tutorial again?

Yep! Click here to retake the tutorial. Note that the tutorial will give you specific instructions for mobile or desktop depending what device you're using.

Do I need to download an app?

Nope. All you need is a mobile or computer. This tool is designed to work on most devices and browsers.

Do I have to be in Australia to join ACF Investigates?

No! Lots of people all over the world love our wildlife and precious places. Everyone is welcome to join.

Help! There’s something wrong with the image I’m looking at!

While the image is visible on your screen, please look for the button underneath that says something’s wrong. We’ll receive a report and look into the issue.

Help! There’s something wrong with this website!

While the image is visible on your screen, please look for the button underneath that says something’s wrong. We’ll receive a report and look into the issue.

Someone is being unhelpful in the forum

If you see any content that goes against ACF community standards or is otherwise unhelpful, please flag that post so that one of our moderators can deal with it.

Help! I want help signing up, using the website or changing my password

Great! Give us a call during business hours (9am to 5pm Australian Eastern Standard Time) on 1800 223 669 (free within Australia) or +61 3 9345 1111.

How will uncovering land clearing affect businesses in this area?

Nature in Australia is in trouble – and so are we. The food we eat, the water we drink and the places we love are under threat like never before. Our health, our economy and our livelihoods depend on thriving nature, and so does a safe climate. The nature crisis threatens food and fibre production more than almost any other livelihood, and we advocate for a future in which our farmers' livelihoods can thrive too. Unsustainable practices, such as the clearing of critical habitat, threaten nature and the future of farming enterprises. We all have a stake and a role to play to fix this, from governments to communities, and from agribusiness to family farms.

Are there other ACF Investigates projects I can join? Will you be doing more of these in the future?

We hope this will be the first of many crowdsourced investigations. Sign up now to hear about future ACF Investigates projects.

Like everything we do at ACF, we can’t build more projects without help from people like you. Donate now to power this crucial work.

I know someone else who would be great at this!

Amazing! The more people we have on board, the faster we can work to halt nature destruction. Let them know!