Conservation comes naturally in annual national campaign

·3 min read

The third annual Big Backyard BioBlitz is back, encouraging Canadians to get outside and make a difference in conserving the beauty of nature.

Across the country, people of all ages can act as would-be biologists, scientists, foresters and more until Monday. The campaign, put on by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), started Thursday. To participate, all people need is access to a smartphone, tablet or camera.

Organizers are encouraging people to take part by heading out to campsites, walking trails or even their own backyards to search for plants, animals and insects. Participants take photos and share them through the iNaturalist app.

Scientists and conservation planners will use the findings to compile valuable information on species populations and locations, to understand species distribution and even to plan future protection and restoration efforts.

Evan Balzer, conservation engagement co-ordinator with NCC in Manitoba, said the campaign is a way for people of all ages to look at nature more closely and learn about biodiversity, adding it’s also a fun way to spend time outside and connect with nature and fellow nature-lovers.

Balzer said every submission counts and can provide valuable information such as locating species outside their usual range, or where invasive species are encroaching. That information can then be used to identify important habitats for protecting at-risk species.

Balzer told the Sun that last year, more than 35,000 observations were made by more than 6,500 participants.

“It happened all across the country, and we’re hoping to have even more this year.”

Balzer said the nature conservancy knows it can’t achieve its goal of conservation without support from the public, and public education, which is why the campaign is so important.

“People aren’t going to go through with the work of taking care of their natural surroundings if they don’t know or recognize it, and the best way to learn about it is to get out and take a look and develop a relationship with the natural spaces around us.”

Andrew Holland, another representative of NCC, said in a phone interview with the Sun that the city of Brandon and the surrounding Westman area had some very interesting submissions last year.

Between 15th and 16th streets, a photo of an American pelecinid wasp was submitted. Observations of an invasive plant called a creeping bellflower were also confirmed near Princess Avenue.

Holland said he believes the program has been so successful because it has brought people out of their houses to engage with nature during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When the world kind of shut down, we started this to see how people could connect with the outdoors and feel better about things,” Holland said.

“It’s a way to get people of all ages to do something, and you don’t need to be an expert.”

To learn more about how to take part in the event, visit

Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun

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