What is a project on iNaturalist?

Projects are essentially ways of pooling observations together that meet set observation criteria. While projects can be useful and beneficial, it is not necessary to create or contribute to a project to enjoy using iNaturalist. Making observations and identifying observations are by far the most important part of iNaturalist.

Projects require someone to create them and commit to administering them. A project can be ongoing, or time-bound (e.g. weekend bioblitz or bush-walk events).

How to start a project on iNaturalist

1. Open iNaturalist in a web browser and log in to your account.

2. Select ‘Projects’ on the far right side of the blue tabs under your main profile picture icon.

Once you click on the icon you’ll be taken to ‘Your Projects’ page. You should see the ACF Nature Near You project listed here. If you don’t, please see previous instructions on how to ‘Join the ACF Nature Near You Project’.

3. Select ‘Start a Project’ and select ‘Collection’ project from the two options (Collection and Umbrella)

4. Fill in the name of your project (e.g. ACF X Group NatureNearYou). You have the option to upload an icon (e.g. your ACF Community Group Logo) and a banner image if you wish.

5. Be sure to select your project’s observation requirements (what photos are allowed to be included). You should constrain the observation requirements to Australia (search ‘Australia’ and select from the drop-down menu in ‘Include Places’ search bar. Alternatively, you can further constrain your location to a specific local park, state or other geographic location.

6. Be sure to check the box ‘Only display observations from project members (people who have joined the project)’ box.

7. Select your data requirements. We recommend selecting ‘Research Grade, Needs ID and Casual’ under Data Quality; ‘Any’ under Media; and ‘Any’ under Establishment Means (see image below).

8. Select the ‘Dates Observed’ (i.e. when photos can be posted to your project). If you are organising a specific time-bounded event (e.g. Bush-walk) you can make this a specific day, or for an ongoing project keep it ‘open’ for the whole year. For ongoing projects without a start or end date we recommend you select ‘Any’. (You can change or update these settings any time).

9. Add any additional Admins for the project. Admins are iNaturalist users who will be able to edit the project. To be added as an Admin to a project you first need to join it. It helps if you know what their name is on iNaturalist. You can also add these or change them at any time.

Joining ACF's umbrella project

Follow these steps to add your project to ACF's NatureNearYou umbrella project:

  1. Create your project (see previous instructions)
  2. Email ACF your event page URL and name to [email protected] and we will add your project to ACF’s NatureNearYou project page.

This may take up to 1-2 weeks to occur. Once we’ve added the project you’ll be able to see how your project is tracking and join other projects being run by ACF supporters across Australia.

Tips on managing your project
  • Clearly communicate the rationale or goal of the project within your community (e.g. Help us identify as many species as possible in our local neighbourhood and contribute to biodiversity research).
  • Be willing to put in the work to promote the opportunity within your community. A little passion goes a long way.
  • Recruit additional admins, managers or curators to your project to help with identifications and community-building. Admins can be added on the Edit Project page for a Collection or Umbrella project. In your Project settings you can add "Members" at the very bottom of the settings page and make someone a manager or curator on the project.
  • Run contests or organise meet-ups for your local community members, friends or family. Themes like the "observation of the month" or year-long challenges encourage interaction and friendly competition among project members.
  • Acknowledge community members for their findings, however significant or insignificant. Getting a comment on your observation by the group administrator can help encourage participation. To post a comment click on an observation in the project. 
  • Keep track of the progress of the project. It is a powerful tool for sharing good news stories on the accomplishments being made by participants in your project.
Tips on growing your project

Your project can help to connect you to nature enthusiasts in your community who may not be engaged with your group or ACF. It’s important that we use nature-connection activities like these to engage as many different types of people who love nature as possible. Ideas on ways you can find new people include:

  • Use social media to extend the reach of your project and actively recruit new participants. Copy & paste the link to your project page & share it on Facebook or other social media. You can invite your ‘Friends’ and followers to join in on your NatureNearYou project.
  • Provide updates to your followers and/or group members through social media and/or email to motivate participation. e.g. "To date ACF Community Malvern has documented over 100 species, including threatened species like the Grey-headed flying fox!”
  • Promote opportunities to join in on bush walks and contribute to the project in the community. Post signs in local grocery stores, libraries, newspaper articles, presentation displays at community events, etc.
  • Organise events around your project. Examples could include hosting a day where your goal is to document as many species as you can in your local park, host a bioblitz, a wildlife photography workshop, nature journaling outing, etc. Don't just appeal to the scientist inside everyone, appeal to the artist and nature-lovers too.
  • Network with relevant conservation groups, regional authorities and experts in the local and global community to take part in your event(s) and/or contribute to your project.
  • Work with parents and educators to get youth involved. This kind of news can really galvanize support for a community citizen science project.