Volunteers lounging on the couch in their PJ’s

Department of Conservation —  26/06/2021

Ditch those gumboots, find a comfy couch, hot chocolate, PJ’s and a digital device and join the 1.6 million volunteers worldwide participating in conservation projects from across the globe through Zooniverse.

Did you ever imagine that volunteering from the comfort of your own couch was possible? Zooniverse brings this intriguing option to reality.

Over 1.6 million registered volunteers worldwide have left the gumboots and spades aside and instead geared up with an internet connection. Trough Zooniverse, they suddenly have the power to participate in conservation projects from all over the world.

Zooniverse provides a platform for researchers to enlist the help of people interested in their projects. Volunteers choose a project to participate in and help to classify what the pictures show. Each picture will receive a classification from several volunteers – this draws upon the power of “image peer review” to raise the accuracy of classification. Volunteers enjoy a full tutorial to gain confidence before getting into the task.

Each volunteer can also track their efforts if they wish – signing in means that they can track the number of pictures they’ve classified as well as collect favourite pictures. A lively discussion board can be taken advantage of for those who like to interact.

Taranaki Mounga

Taranaki Mounga has the vision “He Kawa Ora – Bring Back Life” to the area that encompasses Taranaki, Pouakai, Kaitake and Ngā Motu. Taranaki Mounga has enjoyed the benefits of leveraging from Zooniverse. Sixty motion detection cameras have been set up all over Egmont National Park. These are moved around the Park and the captured sensor images are uploaded on to the citizen science platform. So far, there has been a total of 530 online volunteers contributing to this project, including people from Taranaki, the rest of New Zealand, and all over the world like Canada, Kenya and the Phillippines. These volunteers have been able to classify nearly 3000 images – whether they are rats, possums, kiwis or anything else. From this, the Taranaki Mounga Project has been able to learn that most animals that set off the cameras are predators, giving a valuable insight into the state of the National Park and provide another monitoring tool to guide predator control (read more here).

Left – Kiwi has been detected by a motion sensor camera in the National park.
Right– Two possums setting off a motion sensor camera in the National Park.
📷: Taranaki Mounga Project.

Students from Omata School in New Plymouth have enjoyed using Zooniverse as an interactive learning tool. The pupils have gained an increased awareness of predators on their Mounga exactly as they are in the wild, using the tutorial to identify the animals. Much more exciting than rote learning from a textbook!

Omara primary school students learn about predators using Zooniverse with DOC ranger Cody Luckin. 📷: Taranaki Mounga

Conservation volunteering does not have to be out in the wild. Zooniverse can shift inability (limited transport, physical fitness or time) to ability. Online volunteering provides a solution to those with limited scope.

Think you’d like to join in? Do a few pics here and there, or many in one sitting – you can learn more about helping Taranaki Mounga on Zooniverse or browse other exciting projects that rely on digital volunteers. Here are some options:

Further information

Taranaki Mounga on Zooniverse: 

Omata School students’ teach you how to use Zooniverse: www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJDDAH2r5fM&t=72s

All projects on Zooniverse: www.zooniverse.org/projects

National Volunteer Week 2021

National Volunteer Week runs from the 20 – 26 June 2021. It’s a chance to celebrate and thank all the volunteers and community groups who take action for conservation. We’ll be sharing stories throughout the week about the amazing work of those volunteers who generously give to ensure Papatūānuku thrives.

One response to Volunteers lounging on the couch in their PJ’s


    This is something really interesting!