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).