The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales was the first Wildlife Trust in Wales to sign up to the iSpot community online.
Increasing public engagement and understanding of local wildlife and biodiversity has long been a priority for conservation organisations, government bodies and also of the many individual experts and passionate people working out there ‘in the field’. iSpot is an innovative approach to public engagement with nature. It is a website operated by the Open University and was developed as part of the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) project.
iSpot aims to create a social network around biodiversity, connecting beginners with experts and encouraging a new generation of naturalists and recorders. It is open to all – from the casual watcher of wildlife programmes, community groups and schools to experts who are leaders in their chosen field. It is designed to help people share their love of wildlife, to learn more about the nature they see around them and to get help from others in identifying their wildlife observations.
For beginners wishing to take their understanding a step further, iSpot is also an element of the OU course, Neighbourhood Nature, which focuses on connecting people with the wildlife and habitats in their own locality and developing an understanding of surveying techniques and recording.
A wide range of organisations are involved from local specialist groups to larger more national organisations.
iSpot is still evolving. At present, users are able to see the NBN distribution for any species which is identified and one of the priorities for the technical team is to now make the geographical distribution of iSpot observations available to users. The site hosts an ever increasing set of interactive and user-friendly identification keys. The next step is a phone App which will allow observations to be uploaded to iSpot from mobile devices in the field, giving the potential to get immediate feedback from other on-line users. The well designed reputation system also supports the accuracy and validity of identifications given and agreed with on-line.
For more information on how you can be involved in iSpot then to get in touch with Clare Flynn, Biodiversity Mentor for Wales, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by going on to the iSpot website.