TAKE PART IN A SPECIES DISCOVERY EXPEDITION WITHOUT LEAVING HOME

As Australian school children head into a new term of COVID-19 schooling, Bush Blitz is launching a new online tool that allows them to play an important role in helping our environment without leaving the backyard.

The Bush Blitz species discovery program, responsible for the discovery of almost 2000 new species, is offering the opportunity for teachers, students and anyone who wants to explore their backyard, to join them in being part of a virtual biodiversity discovery expedition to engage with nature, learn valuable scientific skills and comply with social distancing.

The new Backyard Species Discovery project links children with experts from our nation’s top research institutions who can identify the plants and animals found. All it takes is a device to take photos, access to the internet and a curiosity to uncover what’s living in your backyard.

While we know a lot about our environment, it is estimated that 75 per cent of Australia’s biodiversity is still unknown to science, so the chances of discovering something rare or new to science at home is surprisingly high.

During a Bush Blitz expedition last year, spider expert Joseph Schubert from Museums Victoria, discovered an undescribed species of jumping spider in the backyard of a Victorian farm.

The 1700 species discovered in previous Bush Blitz surveys include spiders, plants, insects, snails, reptiles and even mammals.

Participants upload their images into iNaturalist, an online citizen science program, before it then goes into the Atlas of Living Australia where it’s used for research and conservation management.

Educational resources including videos and lesson plans are also being released as part of the project to cover topics such as scientific photography, how to record frog calls, and attracting native bees to your garden. 

The Backyard Species Discovery virtual Bush Blitz is welcoming participants now.

Bush Blitz is a partnership between the Australian Government through Parks Australia and the Australian Biological Resources Study, BHP and Earthwatch Australia.