My inbox and press releases do not get along… at all. So it’s a minor miracle that an alert today from Save the Redwoods League wasn’t trashed at first glance.
What spared it from my ruthless delete key? An intriguing mobile tech angle that incorporates crowdsourcing in the form of the League’s newly-released Redwood Watch iPhone app. Plus, there are few natural treasures apart from its coastline as quintessentially Californian as its towering redwoods. So that’s a plus.
It’s all part of the group’s “citizen science project” that enlists fans of the majestic trees to help keep track of how climate change is affecting redwood forests.
With iPhones in hand, hikers can help scientists track the migration of redwood forests by simply submitting their location, photos and observations. These insights, along with a Google 3D Maps, will help give environmental scientists a vivid picture of how redwood trees are coping with a hotter planet and guide conservation efforts. It matters because the plight of the redwood could offer clues as to what awaits our ecosystem as Earth’s temps rise.
According to the League…
“The redwood forest is an ancient ecosystem. Redwood relatives once grew in forests all across North America and beyond. But over the past 150 million years of changing landscapes and climate, the redwood forest range has shrunk to only 1.9 million acres along the coast of Northern California.”
The scope of this project is smartly limited to monitoring redwood forests and preserving their health, however. In this regard, this campaign is a great example of using smartphones, location-based tech and social media in support of climate efforts. The social media hooks are provided by iNaturalist.org, a community of nature enthusiasts. It’s a young community, and by Internet standards a small one, but it holds promise. Yet as it stands now, the app’s social media skillset is limited.
Apart from posting to your iNaturalist account, there are precious few strands in its web if the League to hopes to ensnare and engage the mobile masses. This can be remedied by adding support for cross-posting to Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and Tumblr — all great vehicles to raise awareness for the Save the Redwoods League’s mission and let users feast their eyes on the on these awe-inspiring trees.
Maybe version 2.0?