National Geographic Great Nature Project Challenge

Help us identify and design citizen science projects for National Geographic’s Great Nature Project.

In the Great Nature Project, members of the National Geographic Society and the general public from around the world contribute photos and other information to a central database. We are looking for projects that can take advantage of this unique global project to advance important scientific or conservation goals.

In 2013, on the occasion of our 125th anniversary, the National Geographic Society launched the Great Nature Project. The goal of the Great Nature Project is to engage our members and the general public in education, conservation, and scientific activities focused on biodiversity.

The inaugural event for the Great Nature Project was a global celebration of biodiversity that we promoted as a global snapshot of the diversity of life around the world. In this event, conducted during a 10-day period in September 2013, we invited the public to submit photographs of plants, animals, and other organisms to the Great Nature Project through a variety of social media and online citizen science platforms. Our invitation encouraged people to share the biodiversity from their part of the world with the rest of the world. We created an additional incentive by organizing an attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the largest online photo album of animals. During the snapshot and the weeks leading up to it, people from all around the world contributed more than 200,000 photos, including more than 100,000 animal photos to set the world record.

The focus of this first global snapshot was engagement and awareness. Following on its success, we are now making plans to incorporate research and conservation goals into future snapshots. With financial support from the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI), we are reaching out to the global scientific and conservation community to identify opportunities to integrate citizen science and conservation into the Great Nature Project. We expect to select between two and five projects to incorporate into the Great Nature Project’s 2014 global snapshot.

In this “Hack Day Challenge”, we are looking for help identifying and designing citizen science projects that can be conducted as part of the Great Nature Project’s annual global snapshot of biodiversity. Each project will provide participants with instructions about what to photograph and may request that they submit additional information as well. The scientific goal of the project must be compelling enough to motivate large numbers of people to participate, and the instructions must be simple enough for members of the general public with no special expertise to follow. In selecting projects, we will consider their value for the advancement of science or conservation, how motivating they will be to our audience, and the extent to which they will benefit from the large numbers and wide distribution of participants that the Great Nature Project offers.