Watch on Nature


Watch on Nature is a powerful citizen science platform designed to equip everyday Australians with the tools needed to harness near real-time satellite imagery and monitor Australian forests for potential clearing and deforestation.

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  • The challenge brought to us was that the pre-existing version of the platform was designed as a power user tool for the 1-2 geospatial analysts who worked at The Wilderness Society. The workflows were too complex for an untrained user, and the site was so buggy that most users gave up use within days. To sum up, vegetation monitoring at this scale is a mammoth task, over 90% of the analyst's time was spent combing through snapshots for potential clearing. These issues were exacerbated by a counterproductive user experience that made navigating these snapshots slow, tedious and confusing to interpret.

  • Watch on Nature was transformed into a campaigning platform for The Wilderness Society to engage volunteers and supporters around areas of interest. Volunteers actively engage with campaign updates and use the interactive map tool to monitor satellite imagery for clearing events. This approach increases volunteer engagement, investment, and understanding, while also removing the bottleneck of geo-spatial analysts. By shifting the monitoring responsibility to the community, the total number of clearing events uncovered and validated increases. This enables analysts to focus on higher-skilled work, resulting in a more comprehensive and effective solution for monitoring deforestation.

  • Over 900 clearing submissions were captured in the first 5 months, a significant increase over the 340 events captured in the preceding 3.5 years. As of writing, we’ve seen a 4x increase in submissions in approximately a third of the time, demonstrating a 12x increase in monitoring efficacy. Geospatial analysts reviewed over 90% of these submissions, with over 75% being verified as genuine clearing. Verified clearing has led to 14 drone missions being deployed to capture footage of clearing in progress, leading to 9 national news stories, including an ABC 7:30 feature on an illegal clearing in the NT.

  • Areas of Interest: The platform allows the organisation to geo-fence around regions to create an array of cells for users to monitor without revealing the exact locations of vulnerable forests. Campaigner Updates: The platform provides direct communication to volunteers about the missions they are active in, providing updates on how the mission is going and reports on the continued impact of volunteers' work in protecting the region. Multiple Satellite Image Sets: The platform uses Sentinel II satellite image sets, which allows users to see areas of interest under different conditions in near-real time updates every few days. Timeline Navigation: The platform enables users to traverse snapshots intuitively via a timeline, making going forward and abc in time as simple as going left or right on the keyboard. Point and Click Reporting: The platform makes it exceptionally easy for users to note when they have seen a clearing event and draw a simple shape around the impacted area. Tracking and Validation: Users are able to track every clearing event they submit to see if it was validated. If not, they receive a note back directly from the geo-spatial team providing guidance and helping refine the process.