Conservation status not being reflected accurately on iNaturalist Australia

I hoping someone might be able to help me understand how iNat Australia handles conservation status. Currently it seems to be a bit ad-hoc if the conservation status of a species listed under the federal EPBC Act or the FFG Act in Victoria is listed on iNat. I have noticed this seems to be the case over at ALA as well.

Is this just because it is a manual task by curators?

A couple of examples:
Dianella amoena
iNat Has no conservation status for this taxon
ALA AUS: Endangered, TAS: Near Threatened and VIC: Nothing Listed
EPBC Listed as Endangered
FFG Listed as Critically Endangered

Burhinus grallarius (Bush Stone-Curlew)
iNat - Globally - least concern
ALA - NSW: Endangered, NT: Near Threatened, QLD: Least Concern, SA: Near Threatened, WA: Near Threatened and VIC: Is a bit confusing, nothing listed at the top but has two listings lower in the page.
EPBC - Not listed
FFG - Listed as Critically Endangered
(I can only use 4 links per post apparently…)

There are numerous other species with similar inconsistencies including some that are obscured in NSW but not in VIC despite similar FFG Act listings (like Barking Owl and Powerful Owl). I would happily go through and add the conservation status on iNat for threatened species in Victoria listed under the FFG Act but it seems like only curators can do this.

I have submitted a ticket over at ALA for one of the species with issues there so it will be interesting to see what they come back with. I suspect many of the issues for Victorian listing at ALA are due to Victoria being listed twice lower in the page which leads to it not being listed at all in the top “Conservation Status” section. I am not sure if ALA acts as a source for the status in iNat but if so hopefully when their issues are fixed up this will flow to iNat.


welcome to the forum Ben

this is exactly the reason; species don’t get loaded into the database with their conservation status pre-attached, so every one requires manual addition

For taxa you want conservation statuses added to, you can flag them directly on iNat itself. I would also explicitly note on your flags where you can what the species is actually threatened by, as giving them a status will also cause their locations to then be automatically obscured. For things like bush stone curlews, for example, which are not threatened by anything poaching/collection-related, this is not useful, so the obscuration can actually be turned off (but the conservation status still attached) if you indicate this is the case.


Thanks, I was just about to ask about flagging. I am happy to slowly go through and do this but I don’t want to annoy the curators with a bunch of flags! Good point about the threats, I was wondering how curators determine whether or not to obscure locations.

So for a flag the information that would be useful would be a link to the FFG listing and, in addition, any action plan that mentions the threat. especially if this threat is relevant to obscuring the location data.


sure, and also just highlight whether the listing you want added should be done at the state or national level.


Awesome, thanks for the help. Only ~2000 species to check, Should give me something to do until lockdown is over…


You might consider starting a wiki-thread to get other Australian iNatters to help compile a list of species with statuses that need to be updated. There are a few wiki-type threads on here, usually tutorials, e.g. How to use iNaturalist’s Search URLs - wiki or Computer vision clean-up - wiki, which is probably a very similar format to what you would need.

I’m guessing that each country does things a bit differently, but the Canadian iNat team compile the list of taxa requiring geoprivacy and then they solicit feedback using the forum: Updates to taxon geoprivacy and conservation statuses in Canada.

Also, welcome to the forum!


So far it seems like the majority of the species listed do not have any conservation status on iNat. I have only done 10 so far, but all of them had no conservation status listed. I think someone has done more work on this in NSW as I have noticed more species with a status for that state in the past.

I am starting with Vascular plants so obscuring location is probably not as much of an issue. I am skipping sub-species and species without any observations on iNat at this point.

The flags I am submitting are like this, so I would be interested on whether people think this is enough/too much information:

Acacia phasmoides (Phantom Wattle) is listed as Critically Endangered under the Victorian “Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 - Threatened List” (Updated June 2021) for an extinction risk in Victoria. ( I can’t find a Victorian threatened species recovery/action plan but the species is EPBC listed ( and does have a NSW recovery plan which has been adopted under the EPBC Act. ( “There appears to have been a substantial decline in abundance of Victorian populations, with numbers declining from 175 plants in 1988 to about 85 in 2006. Precise causes of this decline are not certain. The Phantom Wattle tends to grow in damp and sheltered situations, and recent extended drought conditions may be responsible for the decline, with a number of dead and dying plants observed in the Victorian populations. Browsing may also be a problem, with feral goats, pigs, rabbits and deer present in the area where the species occurs. The few plants in
the NSW population that grow on private land are affected by invasion of annual grasses.” As threats to not include collection/poaching obscuring the location of observations is may not be required.

Edit: Interesting side note, Acrotriche depressa is listed as extinct in Victoria on ALA but there are observations in Victoria on iNat.


May have gone down a bit of a rabbit hole here… It sounds like a simple enough task, flag a species’ conservation status when it’s on the FFG list but not on iNat, simple! But… What about… Geoprivacy… Flag flooding…. Unresolved flags…. The overall size of the task….

After checking around 150 species

  • 3 listed accurately
  • 16 at a lower conservation status
  • 91 had no status but I skipped due to either being hybrids, subspecies, varieties and/or had no observations or the species was not on iNat.
  • 15 still need to be flagged.
  • 26 submitted flags.

After doing this it was not only clear there was going to be a lot of flags but it was also brought to my attention (Thanks @thebeachcomber) that this was already burying other flags. After I realised general users can view this, I looked and saw the problem for myself. Submitting hundreds of flags is going to be annoying to curators and other users who get their flags buried. I still think this is very worthwhile endeavour, but doing a small amount at a time to not bury others will lead to it taking a very long time. And potentially a lot of these flags could end up sitting unresolved then may end up not achieving anything.

Additionally, I found that it was taking a lot of manual searching to try and determine if obscuring observation locations was required. All of this has led to me spending the last few days reading websites and papers about sensitive data in conservation and best practices around geoprivacy (luckily the state and federal governments have done some work in this area recently). I spent some more time thinking about when to restrict location information and came down to this general summary of my thoughts. In the context of FFG Act species in Victoria and their observations on iNat:

Try to minimise the use of restrictive geoprivacy settings, users should have the ability to make their own decisions on their observations unless:

  • Listed in the VBA Restricted Taxa list.
  • Listed in the ALA Sensitive Data Service.
  • Has a collection or poaching risk listed as a threat in the state FFG Action Statement.
  • Has a collection or poaching risk listed as a threat in the national EPBC Recovery Plan.

Generally, I think this is a good way to deal with the geoprivacy questions for many species, but I’m sure there will still be plenty of grey area. The other outcome of this research was the idea to build a spreadsheet that contains these various lists and some other handy features. This should reduce the amount of time it will take to manually check various websites. But… This does not solve the flooding problem.

I could request to be a curator and, if approved, create and then resolve my own flags (which seems to be allowed). If this were to happen I would plan to only resolve flags that fall into the points above or would disable obscuring the location information as long as it was quite clear there was no major risks. Where a species did not fall into either of these two extremes I would leave the flag open, to allow for discussion. For example; Species that have a somewhat restricted range (around than 5-20 sites) and/or are more likely to be at risk of collection (E.g. some Orchids or Reptiles). This would help with the flooding but there would likely still be a substantial number of flags and I would imagine there is a good chance many of them would remain unresolved.

With all of this in mind, I think the best way to go about this is something like @murphyslab suggested. Ideally to have some curators (@peggydnew I noticed you have done a fair bit of this already, would this interest you?) as well as some users that are interested in the “project” and willing to help go through it all.

So for now I will ask the iNat community what you think?
Would you be interested in being involved in something like this?
Do you think the suggestions for dealing with obscuring location data is appropriate?

If this is of interest to you, or if you have suggestions please let me know.

If you want to look at the sheet with all of the FFG species it can be found here.

Currently the sheet:

  • Contains all of the species in the FFG Act Threatened Species List and their status.
  • Correlates with species listed in the National EPBC Act Threatened Species List.
  • Correlates with species listed in the IUCN Red List.
  • Correlates with species listed in the VBA Restricted Species List.
  • Correlates with species listed in the ALA Sensitive Data System.
  • Correlates with listed EPBC Act Recovery Plans (Can’t link for some reason).
  • Correlates with listed Victorian FFG Action Statement. (Can’t link for some reason).
  • Links to the iNat species page via this list.
  • Adds some colour in an attempt to improve readability
  • Dynamically suggests an automatically generated flag comment and location restriction information like this:

Conservation status does not include Victorian FFG Act listing.

Philoria frosti (Baw Baw Frog) is listed as Critically Endangered under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 - Threatened List (Updated June 2021) for an extinction risk in Australia (link). Also listed under the federal EPBC Act as Critically Endangered (link). Also listed under the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered (link).

This taxon is included in the restricted species list of the VBA so should have location data obscured (link). The Sensitive Data Service of the ALA includes a listing for this taxon for VIC, by Vic DSE, Localisation 10km (link).


I think this is great! If you have the knowledge, passion, and time, you can request to be a Curator at Even if not, a few determined people working together could make a good dent in the flags backup.

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Hi @benfish, sorry I haven’t responded earlier. I can help with this - I set up the initial taxon geoprivacy flags based on sensitive lists provided to us at the Atlas of Living Australia for our Sensitive Data Service. I’d be really happy to take you through the issues with lists and we should be able to come up with a reasonable tilt at a summary of the problems and the best way to get them fixed. I’ll message you my contact details. If anyone else interested in being part of the discussion send me a message. At this stage it would be better for me to talk it through in person than write it up and work it out here on the forum.


I’m not certain what this is all about but I’ve found that many Queensdland orchids have erroneous conservation status on iNat and flag them when I find them.
If I can help sort things out, let me know.

Should I keep flagging them?

I would keep flagging them, the curators have been great so far at going through the flags I have submitted. It helps if you can provide a link to the source of the status.

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