Starting a whole new project under an umbrella project

Greetings from Malaysia.

I’ve been a user on iNaturalist for quite awhile. Here in Malaysia, at least from my observations, iNaturalist is not a widely known platform except for areas that have been actively participating in City Nature Challenge - Klang Valley & Penang. However, recently more conservationists and I could say, NGOs that is in the field are starting to venture into using the platform. A great news tbh.
So someone contacted me on starting something that sounds more like an umbrella project, and I’m not so familiar with it. It is a totally new project.

This project is on pollinator survey and the locations are from three selected states throughout Peninsular Malaysia. It is to encourage teachers from selected schools to get their students to document pollinators in their neighbourhood. This is a step for schools to run activities with students and getting them to explore around their house during this pandemic.

For this situation, how should I go about in creating this project?
What I’m thinking is to create several new Collection projects based on the selected locations (in this case it will be three Collection projects), then place them under an Umbrella project. This is quite a new project so at the moment, there aren’t any existing Collection projects.

I’m also thinking about the project management since I’m only helping to advice the team on using iNaturalist. What if in 2 years time this project “dies off”? Let’s say in the future, if there are more conservationists were to work with schools to run this kind of project with a risk of it being left behind 2-3 years after, will it be somewhat… troublesome or a mess? Or does that not matter, or the project coordinator have to take the initiative to remove the project after? If Umbrella or Collection project is removed, will that affect observations?

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Welcome to the forum :)

I’m glad to hear that Malaysians are getting more interested in iNat. The more diverse our users, the better we will be!

It sounds as though the best setup would be the following: an umbrella project with traditional projects underneath, rather than collection projects.

This is because traditional projects can require observations to have specific observation fields, such as those related to pollination. It would be a little more work than a collection project, but is the only way to separate pollination events from other observations. Unless you are content with any observations of specific pollinator species, which may be difficult or impossible to determine.

Projects are not a huge burden on iNaturalist, but the creation of new places is. I would see if there is a way to use places that are already defined on iNstutalist. If not, it helps to choose new places which can be generally useful to others as well, such as a town, rather than a single school campus.

Deleting or changing a project will not delete or change any of the observations in the project. It might change which observations are counted.
It might even be better not to delete a project, because what is hardest for iNaturalist’s servers is big changes, not volume of data so much.


I would note that if you do need to create new locations, it isn’t a big problem as long as those locations are geographically small. If they are quite large (and not used by others), that should be avoided.

With school projects, there are some potential issues that can come up including students being unfamiliar with iNat and creating large amounts of lower quality observations. I don’t note that to be discouraging, but just to increase awareness that it can be an issue. Good training of teachers and careful monitoring of projects and their observations by the teachers go a long way towards making the projects work well for everyone.

There’s a great “Teacher’s Guide” for iNat here’s+guide that gives excellent advice/tips for starting school projects.


Awesome possum, . Thank you so much! These are great info. I really appreciate it.


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