Ways to annotate permnant habitat loss due to demolition?

An area that I have enjoyed walking and documenting over the past few years - a pollinator habitat set aside on a university grounds - is being demolished for a large surface parking lot. (Yes, this is definitely a bummer.)

I am curious if there are ways to mark or denote places that have experienced demolition / habitat loss / permanent alteration - and if there is value in doing this, as I assume it would be time consuming - annotating individual observations rather than doing it in bulk. I didn’t see annotation labels that I thought would be appropriate when I looked.

Clearly, in ten years from now, somebody could look at an aerial and realize that there wasn’t always a parking lot in this area - but will they know what was here before? Is there value an annotating this somehow? Would a label be helpful for potential future research efforts?

Maybe the iNaturalist ten years from now will have layered maps to show us what was present in an area before - how cool would that be! In this case - gilgai mounds and unplowed prairie can be seen in the 1950 aerials; alongside plowed farmland, clearly demarcated by a treeline that persists today; I imagine machine learning could pretty quickly be trained to spot something like gilgai mounds for future data usage. That’s a slight divergence from my initial question, although relevant in that future models could make it obsolete to need to say a space has been demolished if that data can be tracked a different way.

In case it is of interest, here is the area of note - the green triangular space to the east of the road.


I’ve used the National Land Cover Database for similar purposes in my work (conservation/restoration) but it’s obviously quite granular. It’s a neat idea to incorporate something more specific into iNaturalist.

Sorry to hear about the loss of pollinator habitat for additional parking, I wonder if they have any intent to create additional habitat elsewhere on campus to compensate the loss…


Thank you @rogue_biologist - I did not know about that database and am having fun exploring it. I definitely hope there is potential for data like this to one day be integrated into iNaturalist.

This university is part of the Bee Campus U.S.A. program, so it has several wildflower areas with no mow zones. These areas vary, with some having been entirely cultivated with native species, and others just having been left to grow as-is. This particular area was unique in that it was so large and continuous.


It’s difficult to document absence.

I know sometimes people have created projects for observations made in temporary/soon-to-be-destroyed spaces. It isn’t a systematic solution, but maybe something like this – a project for a space, with a note in the project description about when it was demolished – would be a way to make that loss more visible and serve as a sort of memorial of what used to be there.

It is one of the more difficult aspects of observing nature in urban spaces – so often the habitats are impermanent, arising not by intent but because of gaps created by human planning processes.


There is another thread about obs in a dormant building site. Will be built on now. But they had recorded the wildlife that came to the dormant building site.

Thank you - the idea of a project hadn’t crossed my mind and it would be an efficient way to create a bounded space / add records. This area doubled as a disc golf course with mowed paths so organizing it this way makes sense on a few levels.

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