Crowdsourcing conservation in the bush

During a recent visit to Mount Lofty, I spotted an interesting digital project in Cleland Conservation Park. The Park protects a significant area of natural bushland in the Adelaide Hills. The aim of project is to encourage passers-by to take photos of an areas of bush, using an app called ‘Trend‘. These photos are then used to create 3D models, allowing the researchers to monitor the ecosystem over time.

2014-06-05 13.40.46 HDRThe information board provides very clear instructions for visitors and includes a QR code for downloading the app. In order for the 3D models to be created, a photo must be taken from two different angles. For the results to be comparable, each visitor must also take the photos in exactly the same spot. These problems were easily overcome by providing posts for people to place their phones while taking the photos.

2014-06-05 13.42.12 HDR

Here you can see this area of bush being studied (between the two yellow posts) and the wooden post in the foreground where you place your phone to take the photo.

2014-06-05 13.43.10 HDR-1This area of bushland is of interest to researchers, as in October 2013 it was part of a programme of controlled burning. I could see walking around the trunks of the trees are still black from the fire. Controlled burning is a land management technique I vaguely remember reading about during my anthropology degree. So, it was interesting to see it being used in a conservation park.

Overall, this digital project caught my eye because it was simple and elegant enough to engage passers-by as citizen scientists. My one criticism is the app can only be downloaded from the Australian app store. As someone who is still connected to the UK app store I was unable to download the app. I’m sure other tourists who want to contribute will encounter the same problem. Hopefully this can easily be fixed and I wish the researchers every success with the project.

Bye for now…

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