Citizen scientists armed with a new weapon against polluters and poachers:
BCWF Conservation App and Website
Available to iPhone users, the app makes it easy for users to take geo-referenced, time-stamped photos or videos and to report issues related to illegal use, or abuse, of our natural resources. The app works both in and out of service using the phone’s GPS. Reports are sent to a secure server and then forwarded automatically to the appropriate enforcement agency.
There are millions of British Columbians’ recreating and working in the backcountry who are passionate about conserving and protecting our natural resources.
The app gives them another tool to protect our natural resources for future generations.
The app should increase the ears and eyes of enforcement agencies and create significant efficiencies within these agencies by giving them up-to-date reports which include applicable fields related to investigations.
The BCWF mapping website is a public website that can display environmental abuses submitted by users and to help increase awareness about the threats facing natural resources around the province.
The BCWF hopes this ground-breaking approach will change the value British Columbians put on their natural resources.
The BCWF President Jim Glaicar said, "We created the BCWF Conservation App to give all British Columbians a tool to allow us to fulfill our individual responsibility as citizens in changing the way we see, use, conserve, protect and value our natural landscape."
Support for this project was provided in part through the Okanagan Basin Water Board’s Water Conservation and Quality Improvement Grant Program and its public outreach and education program, Okanagan WaterWise.
“We are very pleased to support this initiative,” said Corinne Jackson, OBWB’s Communications Director.
“We have seen an increasing number of issues in our backcountry, but also in the valley bottom, from ATVs and dirt-bikes being driven on dams and through wetlands, to dumping of household garbage in and near creeks, damage to riparian and fish habitat, and more. These types of activities are hurting aquatic habitat and sensitive ecosystems. They are also happening in what are often sources of drinking water to local residents. We see this app and website as important tools in raising awareness and helping protect these areas.”
Rick Simpson, from the BCWF Region 8 Okanagan, encourages everyone to download the free app and to provide feedback to the development team. Simpson said, “By using the app to text your observations you are helping, in a big way, our thinly stretched enforcement people to avoid wasting valuable follow-up response time, by pinpointing the specific geo-location, time, date, and capturing an image of your observed infractions. This is an exciting time for conservation.”
Doug Forsdick, Chief Conservation Officer, B.C. Conservations Officer Service, said the COS appreciates the new app. "British Columbians are passionate about protecting their environment, wildlife and natural resources. We welcome more eyes and ears across the province to help guard against illegal activities that can harm our ecosystems and beautiful natural spaces. Thank you to the BC Wildlife Federation for bringing public awareness to ongoing conservation efforts."
When a user sends a report, they will have the ability to make the report public or confidential. The goal of making these reports public is to raise awareness to these issues and help prevent further violations.
If the user chooses “public”, a moderator will then review the report to determine if it should be placed on the public website.
Personal information of the app user who reported the violation will not be disclosed on the public website.
VISIT ITUNES ON YOUR MOBILE DEVICE AND SEARCH "CONSERVATION APP" TO DOWNLOAD
Registered users may also report violations via the website
For ease of reporting and ensuring the reports go to the appropriate enforcement agency a number of standard violation types have been identified to help direct the app to report to the appropriate enforcement agency, users and direct dispatchers. If you are unsure where the violation falls select the “Other” option.
Examples include; suspicious or illegal pumps in creeks, illegal water withdrawal/ use, or reporting a watercraft (motorized or not) travelling into B.C. which has not been inspected for mussels
Examples include: illegal dumping of household materials, dumping a foreign substance such as waste water into a water body, or burning outside of permitted times or without a permit
Examples include: destruction of fish or riparian habitat, illegal road/trail construction, illegal off-road vehicle use, mud-bogging, dumping contaminated waste, or operating a motorized vehicle above elevation restrictions
Examples include; hunting out of season, hunting in a closed area, discharging a firearm in a no-shooting area, hunting at night with the aid of a light. It could also be used to report activities such as attracting bears, or interfering with a lawful hunt
Examples include; exceeding the daily quota of fish, angling during closure, fishing with prohibited gear
This option is for reporting anyone engaged in salmon or saltwater poaching or infractions.
Blocking public access
Examples include; illegally fencing or gating public roads, illegally fencing Crown land, or blocking access to a public road by a vehicle
Examples include; when livestock are on land which does not have a grazing tenure, or after the take home date when livestock must be removed based on range use plans
All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV)
This could include; users operating in areas where snowmobiling or ATV use is closed (i.e.access management or caribou recovery areas). It could also include ATVs without license plates or users not wearing helmets.
This could include; unlawful harvest of timber, unauthorized destruction of a forest service road, log theft, illegal use/damage of a recreation site, unauthorized construction of a permanent structure.
Please note, this app is designed to report infractions related to natural resource use/abuse. It is not designed to report problems with wildlife or human-wildlife conflict.
A version of the app will be created for Android based mobile operating systems at a later date.
THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS
For more information, contact:
Jesse Zeman, Resident Priority Program Manager, BC Wildlife Federation @ (250) 878-3799 or