Technology for Conservation Communication

By Urvi Dani and Madeleine Kaleta

Let’s Talk About Conservation Communication!
We’re passionate about conservation and know that our society benefits from conservation practices, but explaining the how and why to the masses can prove challenging. New technology, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, can help make scientific data more consumable for the public by applying data-driven storytelling and design thinking. This integration opens up efficient and effective possibilities to help involve more people in conservation. By combining technology and conservation, we can work together to advance and spread the right message to inspire sustainable choices!

Here are a few great tech tools that help you communicate your conservation story.

Communicate and Collect your Nature Findings with Identification (ID) Apps!
To communicate conservation in your area and around the world, a host of identification apps have flooded the app stores. Not only can you contribute to scientific knowledge and conservation decisions, but these ID apps also allow for communicating with other citizen scientists about sightings of rare species, and how different species are doing, creating entire communities around wildlife!
Join the flock by using apps like Merlin ID to identify the 600 species of birds that have been reported in Texas! Curious about native plants and wildflowers? Use apps like PlantSnap or to find out what grows in your neighborhood. If you have a favorite animal or want to track the conservation progress of a species, you can add photos or follow your favorite species using Wildbook. Wildbook uses AI to identify species and individual animals from photos sourced from scientists to social media. If you love all things natural, iNaturalist and Seek are great tools to identify and learn about species across taxa – from insects to mammals and everything in between! These platforms make learning and sharing easy from social media to discussing with local naturalists!

If you’re interested in finding and creating more nature content, many of our conservation partners in Texas host nature outings, bird walks, and iNaturalist events. Check out our Conservation Events page to find an opportunity near you to try out these cool identification applications!
Join Citizen Science Projects to Communicate the Status of Wildlife Populations
In addition to identifying different species, you can help track wildlife! With so many new citizen science programs for tracking wildlife, you can now check in on how your favorite species are doing! These projects are a great way to get involved and connect with other conservationists and contribute to data that is publicly shared. Citizen science data is geared toward the people! Skip the scientific jargon – use these free tracking opportunities and websites to view a host of information for the public, by the public. And you can share it too!

Join the movement by participating in butterfly tagging with Monarch Watch, or join a training with the Butterfly Learning Center in San Antonio. Set up a nest box for American kestrels and submit your data like the University of North Texas’s Pollinator Prairie. Or use eBird in your neighborhood, on hikes, or at citizen science events like the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, the longest-running citizen science event in the country, through the Fort Cavazos Adaptive and Integrative Management (AIM) program. 

Use Apps to Find and Share Sustainable Favorites
We get it – making sustainable decisions can be tricky. Researching sustainable alternatives or recycling guidelines for your city can get overwhelming. Now you can use apps to make sustainable decisions, and share your favorites along the way.
Try out Too Good to Go or Olio to minimize food waste from local restaurants or your own home. Interested in fighting Palm Oil? Use PalmOil Scan to avoid products containing this preservative. If local recycling requirements are confusing, download iRecycle to find recycling centers near you, and take the guesswork out of accepted recycling materials. If you want to make more ethical or sustainable choices, Shop Ethical app can help you shop with a variety of categories – from fashion to electronics. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Apps for Easy Communication!
AI tools aren’t just for identifying wildlife or new species, they can help you create new content to share! AI resources such as Chat GPT or Snapchat’s new AI bot can help you bridge the gaps in communication, making conservation initiatives or findings easier to share. From creating sustainable grocery lists or making itineraries with eco-tourism in mind for your next trip, AI can help! 

The conservation account you always wanted to start just got easier! Tackle social media posting with Hootsuite or Cloud Campaign. These sources can create captions, customize branding, create or import content, schedule posts, and even report analytics to see how your new conservation posts are doing! Additionally, resources like Grammarly or Readable can help make your posts more professional and more readable to viewers. 

While AI can’t replace your unique tone or perspective, it can help you plan, research, or write social media posts with conservation in mind. It provides a great starting point from which to adapt and make your ideas and findings heard. It’s important to keep in mind that misinformation is one risk that comes with using AI-generated data so remember to check your facts directly with reliable sources before spreading your message!

With so many tools available in the palm of our hands, we can all find fun and exciting ways to not only discover and learn for ourselves but also reach wider audiences than ever before as more individuals, organizations, and communities get involved in conservation across Texas. Together, we have an opportunity to use technology to get more efficient and more creative in conservation and communication!