BioBlitz volunteers collect data in Walpole’s biodiversity hotspot

A few weekends ago, the Walpole Wilderness BioBlitz team, along with 170 community volunteers, conducted a much-needed biodiversity survey of a 400 hectare block of ancient forest in the Walpole Wilderness Area. We’ve been proud supporters of the blitz over the last two years, and eleven Biologic team members and their families volunteered their time and expertise to the survey.

The Walpole Wilderness Area is one of the few places in Australia that offers the opportunity for people to experience a relatively untouched landscape, bursting with biodiversity that’s unique to this part of the world. As WA Museum spider specialist Dr Mark Harvey told the ABC, ‘This part of Western Australia is very special. It includes lots of different species that are found nowhere else on earth and only found in these high rainfall forests here on the south coast.’

Yet despite being a global biodiversity hotspot, biodiversity survey data from the Walpole Wilderness Area is scarce – making surveys like the blitz vitally important. Data from these surveys helps us to better understand the species assemblages and ecological processes of these areas. Volunteers upload images and information to iNaturalist, a ‘social network of naturalists, citizen scientists, and biologists built on the concept of mapping and sharing observations of biodiversity across the globe’, which is linked to the Atlas of Living Australia.

The blitz has a second, equally important function. The community engagement fostered by these events builds public understanding of the unique ecological values of the areas and the important role they have in all our lives. Public interest in this weekend’s blitz was overwhelming, with registrations closing to cap volunteers at 170 people. The event’s organiser, David Edmonds, said it was because ‘people are really interested in learning more about the environment, really having a proactive involvement in conservation.’

We look forward to future blitzes’ equal success in achieving their mission to collect vital biodiversity data and connect communities to the exceptional natural environments around them.