Canadians encouraged to go on a photo ‘blitz’ to help conservation

This weekend will be a chance for Canadians to contribute to conservation in a meaningful and fun way.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC)’s third annual Big Backyard BioBlitz is on now countrywide until Aug. 1. It is a simple but important task. Once registered at natureconservancy.ca/bbb, people can take photos of species they find and submit their observations to one of the largest crowdsourced species inventories in Canada.

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The photos and information provided will be of great support to scientists, conservation groups, governments and others who plan future protection and restorative efforts across the country.

“It gives a snapshot on the distribution and range of species, including invasive plants and species so steps can be taken to control and contain the spread of invasive species,” said Andrew Holland, NCC national media relations director, in a written statement to The Weather Network.

Person participating in NCC-s Big Backyard BioBlitz/Nature Conservancy of CanadaPerson participating in NCC-s Big Backyard BioBlitz/Nature Conservancy of Canada

Person participating in NCC-s Big Backyard BioBlitz/Nature Conservancy of Canada

(Nature Conservancy of Canada)

One species people are particularly urged to look for is the monarch butterfly, which was recently listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) — adding the beloved pollinator to its Red List.

“This amazing insect is the only one in North America that travels 4,000 kilometres each fall to Mexico for [its] migration,” said Holland.

He noted the iconic Canadian species has declined 80-90 per cent in the past 30 years in the country due to the loss of their habitats. To help monarch butterflies recover, Holland encourages people to consider planting milkweed in their yards and gardens.

Monarch butterfly/SubmittedMonarch butterfly/Submitted

Monarch butterfly/Submitted

(Kari Laughlen)

“We were accustomed to seeing these butterflies in our yards and parks for years. Hopefully we can all play a role to help the monarchs bounce back,” said Holland.

The results are already pouring in with more than 19,000 observations logged as of early Saturday afternoon eastern time. More than 3,000 species have been identified and more than 1,000 observers have signed on so far, as well.

Once registered, users will receive a step-by-step guide on how to participate, photography tips, information about species identification, and an automatic entry to win a Big Backyard BioBlitz prize pack. Until Aug. 1, users can also share photos on social media using #NCCBioBlitz for a chance to win a $100 prize.

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While the blitz is until Monday, people can continue to submit their photos through next week as the site will remain accessible for those who didn’t have a chance to upload visuals over the long weekend.

More than 6,500 participants documented more than 36,000 observations across Canada in 2021.

“Spending time outdoors is also beneficial for our physical and mental well-being. This is a great way to connect with nature and fellow nature lovers, while contributing to our collective knowledge of plants, animals and fungi in Canada,” said Samantha Knight, NCC conservation science manager, in a news release.

Thumbnail courtesy of Nature Conservancy of Canada.

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