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Threatened species ‘citizen science’ initiative

Within Australia, citizen science is increasing exponentially in popularity. Community volunteers or ‘citizen scientists’ are known to play an important role in recovery efforts on a wide variety of ecological and environmental themes.

Involvement of the community by scientific data collection and analysis is known to lead to local management of important habitats or sites through ownership and connection with the recovery process. Citizen science represents a significant opportunity to engage the public with threatened species to capture valuable information such as incidental sightings that provide presence/absence data.

Cape York NRM has launched an online ‘Citizen Science’ threatened species sighting portal as part of our Biodiversity Bright Spots Rainforest Project.

This sighting portal currently provides the opportunity for members of the public to report sightings of the Ant-Plant (Myrmecodia beccarii) and the southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) within Cape York Peninsula, but will be extended to include other threatened species in the future.

To enable an up-to-date assessment of the conservation status of these species we need information on population size, distribution, key habitat requirements, and the relative impact of threats.

The process for members of the community to contribute their sightings data is via Cape York NRM’s website and via the QR code on our ‘species profile and identification’ fact sheets specific to the Ant-Plant and the Cassowary.

These resources are available on our website and in the coming months will be distributed as hard copies to key locations across the Cape from Lakeland to the northernmost Roadhouses at the tip with the aim to reach as many locals and visitors as possible.

Cape York NRM values the public’s contribution to increasing our knowledge of threatened species in the region. Importantly, the format and type of data that we request as part of your sighting contribution mirrors the Queensland Government’s WildNet database.

Your important sightings data will be forwarded to the WildNet database that supports Queensland’s biodiversity and protected areas by providing important wildlife information that underpins conservation policies, programs, and management responses.

We look forward to receiving your contributions to this important initiative!

This project is supported by Cape York NRM, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program