What is iNaturalist?

iNaturalist is a free citizen science app that is hosted by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society. You can use it to record your own observations of plants and wildlife and get help with identifications of what you see. You can also access all the observational data collected by iNaturalist users around the world using the search tools available on the platform.

iNaturalist connects you with a community of over a million scientists and nature enthusiasts who can help you learn more about nature! iNaturalist uses artificial intelligence to help provide suggested identifications for observations (pics) you upload to the app. These are then verified by experts and experienced players. All verified and research-grade sightings go into global databases, like the Atlas of Living Australia.

"iNaturalist is an online social network of people sharing biodiversity information to help each other learn about nature."

Step one: Download the app

iNaturalist is a free, independent app that is simple to download and easy to use. It is not owned by or affiliated with ACF. 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.

  1. If you haven’t already, download the free iNaturalist app from your app store on Apple or Android.
  2. Open the iNaturalist app and create an account to sign in (you will only need to do this once).
Step two: Join the #NatureNearYou project


1. Open the app and create an account to sign in (you only have to do this once). 


2. If you’re using an iPhone or iPad, select “More…” on the main menu screen (pictured).  

On Android, click on the menu bar in the top left corner.

3.  Select Projects
4. Search projects on the app for ‘ACF #NatureNearYou’
5. Click on the project and select ‘Join’ in the project.
6. ALL DONE! Go out and start snapping your pictures and uploading them to your iNaturalist account. Once you have joined a project your observations will automatically be included in it.  

7. You can check out news/updates from the project in the app using the ‘Activity’ option on the main menu bar (bottom of the screen). Select ‘News’ in the top right-hand corner to check any #NatureNearYou updates. 

Enjoy discovering all the awesome #NatureNearYou. We can’t wait to see what you find!

Step three: Observe and record the world around you

An observation records an encounter with an individual organism at a particular time and location. This includes encounters with signs of organisms like tracks, nests, or things that just died. When you make an observation, you’ll record:

Your observations don’t need to include all of these parts, but they do in order to become research quality observations for science. Remember, you should make separate observations for each separate organism you encounter. If you observed something that is not wild, like a garden plant or a lion in the zoo, make sure to mark it as captive/cultivated to prevent it from becoming research quality.

How to post an observation to iNaturalist

There are a number of video tutorials available on the iNaturalist website to help you get you started using the app.

You can also see the infographics below on how to post an observation in the app on an iPhone or Android device or online through the iNaturalist website.

Additional video tutorials you can watch:


How do identifications work in iNaturalist?

On iNaturalist, you can also contribute by adding identifications to yours and other user’s observations. iNaturalist uses artificial intelligence to help provide suggested identifications for observations (pics) you upload to the app (but this isn’t always fool-proof, so it’s important the community of users and experts check this).

Each identification helps confirm or improve the community's opinion on the species that the observation represents. These are then verified by experts and experienced players. All verified and research grade sightings go into a global database. This database includes links to the local Atlas of Living Australia.

Additional iNaturalist video tutorials you can watch on this topic: