Citizen scientists from Southern NSW and Canberra have been singled out at a national level for their grassroots work in local forests, grasslands, and coastal estuaries.
The Banksia Foundation is a well-established not-for-profit organisation dedicated to working with government, industry, and community to focus attention on excellence in sustainability.
In making their decision, the award judges said: “They [The Atlas of Life and NatureMapr Network] have clearly demonstrated strong capacity-building and local community participation.”
“[Especially] the engagement with schools, government, and local councils and their multiple links to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, with clear positive impacts and empowerment happening in the communities involved.”
Bursting with pride, Libby Hepburn from the Atlas of Life and NatureMapr Network says, “The Banksia Foundation Awards are the most prestigious sustainability awards in Australia so we were very pleased to reach the finals and absolutely delighted when we were announced the winners.”
“The NatureMapr platform is a superb tool that people find easy to use and a delight to explore. It encourages us all to look closer at nature and to understand more of the way it works.
“Using NatureMapr, community members can contribute to the data our natural resource managers need to conserve the amazing biodiversity where we live.”
Graz van Egmond, CEO of the Banksia Foundation says, “We were thrilled with the calibre of entries to the Awards, and the winners’ commitment to progressing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”
“It’s wonderful to be able to connect their work here in Australia with a global drive for change. They should be very proud of the impact they are having.”
Other finalists in the community category included:
- Share Shed, a Brisbane-based ‘Library of Things’ full of useful items for members to borrow for a subscription fee of $80 per year;
- Repair Cafe Perth, which encourages community members to bring in broken household items for skilled, onsite volunteers to repair free of charge;
- The Kanangra-Boyd to Wyangala Link, a community-led initiative to conserve natural habitats across the Abercrombie River corridor, from the Greater Blue Mountains to the Central Tablelands in NSW;
- uBegin.com, an online platform that facilitates resource-sharing and collaboration among different networks and organisations to drive positive change on a local and international scale.
Libby says the NatureMapr Network is the fastest developing biodiversity mapping initiative in Australia.
“It is a unique example of how community-led citizen-science initiatives and partnerships across government agencies can be great fun; promote learning and add real value to regional decision-making for environmental sustainability,” she says.
The network currently has three partners, the Canberra Nature Map, the Atlas of Life Coastal Wilderness and the Atlas of Life Budawang Coast and covers the South East corner of New South Wales and the ACT.
“Together we are creating a beautiful and valuable online database of regional species,” Libby says.
The network has so far attracted over 2,000 local volunteers, along with 126 expert moderators, who ensure the validity of each record before it is accepted.
“The energy and creativity of the platform creator, Aaron Clausen, ensures the continual enhancement of this user-friendly recording platform,” Libby says.
Over 1.18 million sightings of over 7,000 species have been recorded to now, records that contribute to the national biodiversity database – the Atlas of Living Australia.
“This Banksia Award is dedicated to everyone who is helping to build this rich database,” says Fiona Stewart of the Atlas of Life Budawang Coast.
“And to Aaron Clausen the tireless developer, all the dedicated administrators, and moderators who ensure the system works and that the identifications are valid and to all the community members, experts and amateurs alike who together are building this significant record of the natural world as it is today.
“Other groups including the Banksia Gold Award Winner the Lord Howe Island Board, have expressed interest in using NatureMapr, so our network looks set to continue its contribution across Australia,” Fiona says.
This year to mark the Banksia Foundation’s 30th Anniversary Awards, the Foundation restructured the event to align with the United Nation’s Global Sustainable Development Goals. In doing so, the Banksia Foundation is seeking to elevate the Awards’ profile and spotlight Australia’s contribution to the global push for peaceful, healthier, and more prosperous communities and the end to environmental degradation.