iSpot: celebrating 12 years of biodiversity citizen science & engagement

Biodiversity is in decline and we need to act; helping to monitor and protect the variety of ecosystems, species and habitats on which life on earth depends. Citizen science supports action for biodiversity and 27 June marked 12 years of – the Open University’s (OU) award-winning citizen science platform engaging citizens to record, identify and learn about this.

“A little over a decade ago, to extend our public engagement on ecology, an experimental seed was planted and labelled ‘iSpot (biodiversity and citizen science)’” says Professor Nick Braithwaite, Executive Dean of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Faculty. “It has matured into ‘a friendly and free community helping to identify wildlife and share nature’, behind which is a sophisticated web of expertise and knowledge: it’s wealth of geo-tagged, time-stamped observational records is now connecting curious citizens to curators of biodiversity science at an unprecedented scale. Let it grow, let it grow!”

iSpot at 12

iSpot: your place to share nature was launched on 27 June 2009 and has developed into a network of over 77,000 nature observers, both experts and novices, who have posted over 800,000 observations with 1.6 million images, identifying over 30,000 species.

“Before iSpot’s birth I had been working on internet based systems to engage the public and thousands of students with recording of wildlife for about 15 years, so to see all of this come together in iSpot has been a dream come true,” says Dr. Mike Dodd, iSpot Curator, STEM Faculty, OU.

The impact of iSpot is extensive; from being essential to the wellbeing of many as a connection with nature throughout Covid-19 to contributing to education, environmental policy-related actions and biological data recording in the UK and globally. “We are marking this significant milestone iSpot12for12, acknowledging and celebrating 12 years of citizen science and engagement about biodiversity; contributing to building species identification skills, biological recording, data gathering, teaching and research,” says Janice Ansine, Senior Project Manager – Citizen Science and iSpot Project Manager, STEM Faculty, OU.

iSpot12for12 highlights past and current activity and new developments and kicks off at the start of the UN decade for ecosystem restoration a global effort to reverse biodiversity loss restoring and conserving ecosystems. Go to the new OU iSpot OpenLearn space to find out more. Get involved, join the iSpot community and #GetiSpotting!

For more information contact: Janice Ansine:

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