November 25, 2021

The Big Bushfire BioBlitz!

We have some exciting news! Across February and March next year, UNSW's Centre for Ecosystem Science is running three BioBlitzes across NSW to help build on the Environment Recovery Project, and bolster the already amazing data collected by the iNat community in the wake of the 2019/2020 Black Summer bushfire season. There'll be three back-to-back weekends of bugs, birds, bats and everything in between, with the aim to survey adjacent burnt and unburnt areas at three key locations across NSW.

We've partnered up with the Atlas of Living Australia, the Australian Citizen Science Association, Minderoo's Fire & Flood Resilience Initiative, and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, and have a fantastic line-up of passionate experts that will be joining in and sharing their amazing knowledge.

The first event will be in the Blue Mountains from 25-27 February 2022, followed by Washpool NP in northern NSW from 4-6 March, and then Murramarang NP on the south coast from 11-13 March. You can register for any of the events at this link, and join the umbrella project (and any of the sub-projects) here.

If you have any questions at all, feel free to pop them in the comments below, or contact either @alpine_flora_of_australia or myself. I look forward to seeing you in the field!

Posted on November 25, 2021 04:01 by thebeachcomber thebeachcomber | 1 comment | Leave a comment

September 03, 2021

Spring flowers and fruits are here!

Hi everyone! Thank you so much for your support, observations, and identifications so far. The bush is getting colourful again, and with lots of flowers and fruits out already, it's a great time to take a walk, see some gorgeous plants, and upload some new observations. We would really love your continued support as we go into spring and summer in 2021.

Here's one way that your observations are going back into science. My name is Desi, I'm a new curator on this project and a postdoctoral researcher in bushfire recovery with Western Sydney University. I want to use your observations help the NSW Parks and Wildlife Service and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment manage their planned burns in the future. Specifically, I want to tell them:

  1. How long it takes for burned plants to start reproducing again. Our timeframe for how long it takes a species to mature is based on plants that are grown in nurseries or on council land -- situations that are more predictable than severely-burned environments, where canopy cover is wiped out and nutrients in the soil can be vaporised away.
  2. When insects come back to visit flowers. This is quite a broad question (after all, different insects do different things!), but it can be tied to the availability of flower resources, and how insects move in and out of burned areas. There is such a limited body of work about insects in the post-fire landscape that everything we learn is useful.

As part of this effort, we've added two new questions to the submission process.

  1. "How many individuals are you observing?". If you're observing a flowering Acacia suaveolens, for example, have a quick look from where you're standing and see if you can spot any other A. suaveolens plants that are flowering too. The options are [1 only / 2-5 / 6-10 / More than 10], so there's no need to spend a long time counting.
  2. "Plant: Do you see any insects on any flowers?". Have a quick look around the plant, see if any insect is sitting on a flower, and answer yes or no.

Taking the time to answer the project questions (when you're at the field, or by editing your observations later on the iNaturalist website) is really helpful. Counting how many individuals you're observing lets us know how many are 'doing the same thing' nearby, and looking for insects on flowers tells us when we might come back next time to do more specific observations.

Once again, thank you for your observations and identifications, in the past and hopefully into the future. We hope that especially in these times, you can feel the simple pleasure of getting out in nature and stumbling upon something cool. Stay safe and enjoy!

Posted on September 03, 2021 10:23 by dquin dquin | 2 comments | Leave a comment

August 16, 2021

Bushfire music made just for you

Greetings everyone :-)

I hope you're all doing ok out there, whether you're doing the hard slog in lockdown or otherwise.

We'd like to share something really cool with you! We've been lucky to engage Kangaroo Valley musician, Zoe Elliot, to compose an original piece of music about the 2019-2020 bushfires. After a lovely chat and walk around my bushfire recovering backyard in the Southern Highlands, Zoe decided two pieces of music were necessary to convey the sadness of the immediate post-fire environment, and the hope in watching the bush recover.

"Fire Line" is the first song, which can be listened to here on Spotify:

or on YouTube here:

The next song, "From The Ashes", is being released this Saturday, very much something to look forward to so stay tuned!

You can follow Zoe on Instagram @zoeelliott_music

Posted on August 16, 2021 00:52 by alpine_flora_of_australia alpine_flora_of_australia | 3 comments | Leave a comment

March 17, 2021

Project update: positive stories and publications

Greetings everyone,

Well, we are most certainly overdue for a journal post! First of all, we'd like to extend a big thank you to everybody who has been adding to the project, from long-time members with hundreds or even thousands of observations (you people are citizen/community science powerhouses!) to brand new members.

Here's a few things that have been going on with the project:

This week, we published a short piece in The Conversation detailing 5 remarkable stories of flora and fauna in the aftermath of Australia’s horror bushfire season using observations submitted to the project. Some of your photographs are even showcased in the article!

You can read it here:

Something that came out last year that I didn't end up posting about (I was rather pregnant!) is the first peer reviewed paper from the project - Rapidly mapping fire effects on biodiversity at a large-scale using citizen science.

Here's a quick summary:

•Citizen scientists were able to rapidly collect data on biodiversity following bushfires (within days), moving much faster than conventional timeframes.
•Data that citizen scientists provided on fire severity (burn height and canopy scorch) nicely matched 'hotspots' satellite data. What this means is in areas where satellites recorded very hot burn areas, your data reflected this by showing high values for tree scorch height (burnt right to the top) and either complete canopy scorch or canopy completely consumed.
•Data was collected at a scale that matched the extent of the firegrounds, and on a wide range of biodiversity - fungi, animals, plants, lichen

For a PDF of the paper, just message me with your email address.

We'll be more active on the journal posts from here on in!

Happy nature-observing everyone


Posted on March 17, 2021 21:54 by alpine_flora_of_australia alpine_flora_of_australia | 4 comments | Leave a comment

May 20, 2020


Do you live in a region affected by the recent bushfires? Are you a keen photographer?
Award-winning documentary production company, Northern Pictures, are seeking photographers working on bushfire-related projects (stills and video) - from when the fires first hit, to now, documenting the regrowth. They will be used for a special natural history documentary to be screened internationally.

If you're interested, please contact

Posted on May 20, 2020 07:09 by alpine_flora_of_australia alpine_flora_of_australia | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 06, 2020

Thank you citizen scientists, and hello fungi!

We're just over a month in, and the response to the project has been absolutely incredible! Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to submit observations and identifications, we hope you're enjoying getting out there and watching life return to the firegrounds. Between you all, there's been over 2600 observations of 593 species so far, which is already turning into a rich post-fire biodiversity resource. Keep it up, you're all amazing!

Now that summer is behind us, cooler temperatures and the recent rain might mean you'll be seeing more fungi around. As with plants and animals, don't pick, remove, or damage fungi in National Parks or reserves.

Here are some handy tips from our friends at FungiMap Australia on how to capture clear images of these important organisms (reposted with minor alterations and permission).

Frame the fungi up so that you can see as many features as possible in one shot, or take several images showing important features. This includes the cap, underneath (e.g. the gills or pores), and stalk.

Get close, use macro settings where possible

  • If possible, have good light without glare, use tripods, timers, diffuse lights in low light conditions

It's great to include in the image:

  • Something for scale, like a ruler or 5 cent piece ‘echidna’
  • A white point object like a label to help with digital colour corrections
  • Mirrors can help with under surface shots

Fungi habitat

  • Habitat images are particularly important after disturbance events as it give use some information about the conditions at the site. For example can show if the area was severely burn or if patches of litter or vegetation survived the fire.

Find out more about fire and fungi here:

Posted on March 06, 2020 02:42 by alpine_flora_of_australia alpine_flora_of_australia | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 16, 2020

Burnt area protocol: keep it clean!

With the project taking off and more and more people making observations, it's a great time to remind everyone about preventing the spread of weeds and plant diseases.

@patrick_campbell has a great message to share, originally from Kerri-Lee Harris, for anyone contributing photos to the project:

"Avoid spreading weed seeds, diseases and fungi. Before walking into burned areas, think about where your shoes have been. They could be carrying seeds or soil-borne fungi … including Phytophthora! This fungus is deadly for many native plants and it is easily spread. Make a habit of spraying your shoes and other equipment with methylated spirits before entering or leaving fragile, regenerating bushland. And don’t forget your car. If you have driven along muddy tracks, wash your vehicle before heading off into another forested area."

Posted on February 16, 2020 07:54 by thebeachcomber thebeachcomber | 8 comments | Leave a comment

February 02, 2020

Environment Recovery Project: A Step-by-Step Guide

Welcome to iNaturalist! When you first join, the site can be a bit tricky to navigate, so here is an easy how-to for uploading your photos to the project.

1) The first step is to join the project! If you're reading this post then you've likely already done this, but just in case you haven't, head to and click on 'join project' at the top right of the project page:

2) Now that you've joined the project, you have to add each of your observations to it as well. Each photo/set of photos of something you upload = one observation. Once you've uploaded your photos, go to each observation. On the right hand side of the page, underneath the map, are boxes labelled 'Annotations', 'Projects', etc. Click the 'Projects' box, and then select the Environment Recovery Project option from the dropdown menu:

You'll then be prompted to fill in 5 observation fields. These relate to things like whether you saw a plant/animal/fungus, how burnt the area was, and what recovery strategies any plants were using. If a field does not apply to your photo, select 'na' as the option, e.g. if you photographed a wombat you can select 'na' for the plant and fungus fields. Make sure that you click each of the 5 white 'Add' buttons, as well as the green 'Add to Project' button so that they all get saved:

3) Your observations are now part of the project and are contributing valuable scientific data! Here are some extra tips and tricks to make sure everything is in order:

i) Always check that each of your observations has the date you took the photo and the location where you took it. This information is sometimes left out when photos are uploaded; in these cases, your observations are labelled as 'casual' until the information is added, which can make it hard for other users to find them and help add identifications.

ii) When you upload each photo, always add an identification, no matter how rough it is. If you take a photo of a resprouting plant and you have no idea what species it is, that's fine! Adding an ID of 'plant' is more useful than leaving it blank. This is because many users specifically search for certain groups of organisms to help identify, so anyone searching for plants will immediately see your photo.

iii) When you're adding identifications, you can only type two different things: a common name or a scientific name. Anything other than these two things will not register as an ID. So if you take a photo of an ant hill, you'll need to type in 'Ants' rather than something like 'ant nest'. Make sure you only type in one of these things (you don't need to type in both), and then select the matching dropdown option that appears. You need to both type in the name AND select the option for it to work.

iv) If you want to add extra information that might not be covered in the 5 observation fields, that's great! You can do this in the description section.

Happy photographing, and a huge thanks for adding your observations to the project. If you're unsure about anything regarding how the site works, feel free to tag me in any of your observations or message me personally, or reach out to one of the other project admins.

Posted on February 02, 2020 09:15 by thebeachcomber thebeachcomber | 4 comments | Leave a comment

January 30, 2020

Welcome to the Environment Recovery Project!

Thank you for joining the Environment Recovery Project. Not even 24 hours in and we’re already over 160 observations! As a member of this project, you’re a citizen scientist who is actively contributing scientifically meaningful information about Australian biodiversity following the massive (and ongoing) fire season of 2019-2020.

When submitting an observation, please use one submission per subject. This means if you have, for example, a koala, a fern, and a mushroom, or a Eucalyptus, a fern, and a grass, these should each be submitted separately. It's great to submit multiple photos or soundclips of the subject as this is helpful for identification.

To ensure everyone makes the most out of their observations, please be sure to select the ‘Observation Field’ that applies (e.g. Animal: ‘native alive’ for a live wombat, ‘unsure’ if you are not sure). Select ‘na’ or simply leave blank fields that do not apply. If you have misapplied fields to your observations, don’t worry, you can easily edit them.

Your moderator team on the project is:

Casey @alpine_flora_of_australia
Corey @coreytcallaghan
Guy @gtaseski
Thomas @thebeachcomber
Will @wcornwell

For brand new iNaturalist users, welcome, and feel free to reach out if you’re uncertain of the process. We’re here to help and support you!

Posted on January 30, 2020 06:04 by alpine_flora_of_australia alpine_flora_of_australia | 12 comments | Leave a comment