Record wildlife on your site

What will you and your pupils find living on your school or nursery site? Perhaps something rare, something unexpected or just a lot more life than you thought! Start building a list of the animals, plants and fungi living in your grounds, and add them to the Nature Park Wildlife Observations Map.

Understanding what’s living there now enables you to understand how your site currently supports wildlife and provides a baseline that you can compare to in the future, once you’ve made some changes to boost biodiversity.  

You can use the free iNaturalist app or the iNaturalistUK website to add wildlife sightings to the map.

iNaturalist allows you to make observations, take photos and build a species list. The best thing is that it also helps you to identify what you’ve photographed using AI image recognition and the expertise of thousands of other wildlife enthusiasts across the country. On the app or website simply tap in the ‘What did you see?’ box to get help identifying your finds.

All sightings added to iNaturalist are used by Nature Park researchers to study biodiversity gains, but are also freely available to other scientists and researchers to build on our knowledge and understanding of the UK’s biodiversity. So, by using this tool you are part of an amazing nature study network.

Getting to know your space

Recording change

~ 1 hour
All ages


Register and download the app

First, create an account on the iNaturalistUK website. Step by step guidance on creating an account is available here.

For your observations to be included on your Nature Park map, you must:

  1. Create an account on the iNaturalistUK website, with both the Display Name and Username starting ‘NENP_’, using a group email e.g. [email protected] or [email protected] if possible.
  2. Set your wildlife data sharing license to CC0 (Account Settings / Content and Display).
  3. Tick the box to affiliate with the iNaturalistUK Network (Account Settings / Account). This means your observations can be of greatest benefit to UK nature study.

Once registered, downloaded the iNaturalist app on to any mobile devices you wish to use and sign in (you may need to request permission to do this). Ensure you allow the app to access the device’s location, photos and media. You can sign in using the same details on multiple devices.


Practice using the app or uploading photos to the website before using it with learners.

Familiarise yourself with the  iNaturalistUK Teachers’ Guide - it includes guidance on taking good photos for wildlife identification purposes.


  • Outdoors to photograph findings
  • Indoors for post activity discussion / curation

Useful guidance  

If you are working with younger learners you may prefer to use an app called Seek by iNaturalist instead – it doesn’t submit or share data or allow commenting by other users, so offers greater safeguarding for very young children (although observations made there won’t be added to your Nature Park map).


Step by step

  1. Begin the session by explaining to learners that they will be using a live app that will send their nature observations to a global community in real time. You could show learners the iNaturalistUK website zoomed in to your site, so they can see what’s already been recorded nearby.  
  2. Demonstrate how the app works using your own device. Use the tips contained in the Teachers’ Guide to help you. Emphasise quality over quantity – it’s not a race. Moving slowly, taking care to get clear, in-focus photos, and taking time to discuss and share your photos as a group is the focus of this activity.    
  3. Split learners into small groups, each with a device. Ask them to explore your site for 10 minutes and use the app to take photos of the wildlife that they see. Choose options that suit the habitats on your site and ask learners to discuss the types of living things they might find in advance of heading outdoors. You can structure this to address various areas of the curriculum and adapt for the age of your learners. Some examples might be to search for and photograph:

    - Something green
    - Something that flies
    - Something living in a very grey, human-made space e.g. your playground
    - Something that lives near water
    - Different stages of a lifecycle (e.g. an acorn, seedling, sapling and tree)
    - Different parts of a food chain (e.g. a plant, a caterpillar and a spider)  
    - The features of a given habitat
    - As many different plants as they can find in an area e.g. 1 metre squared
  4. When naming their observations learners click the ‘What did you see?’ box. If the devices have internet access, several suggestions come up. Learners choose the closest match (this can be changed later). If they are not sure exactly what they have found, they can give it a broad name e.g. ‘insect’ and the community of iNaturalist users will help to refine this.  
  5. If the devices don’t have internet access, learners simply type in a name as close to a species name as they can identify, for example, 'Buff-tailed Bumblebee' or 'bumblebee' or simply 'insect'. Try not to leave this field blank.  
  6. For each observation they make, ask learners to check the location is accurate. Tap in the location field and zoom into the location as close as possible, ensuring that it is within your settings’ site boundary.
  7. Finally, remember to click Save!
  8. Return to the classroom to review your sightings either on the app or on the website (if you don’t have internet access outdoors, you can sync your sightings from each device when you are back in the classroom). Ask learners to share interesting finds and review what others found.  
  9. Check the quality of your observations. Discuss with your learners what makes a good wildlife record. For example,

    - Is the photo too blurry?
    - Is it too far away?
    - Is part of the observation cut off or obscured in the photo?
    - Is the location accurate? Is it within the site boundary?

Use this time with your learners to quality control the observations they’ve just made, deleting or making changes as appropriate. We know that when young people take responsibility for the quality of their data, it can enhance their science learning outcomes.  

Finally, celebrate their achievements! Remember their sightings have been added to national and global databases and a global community of naturalists will be able to view their observations, confirm what they have seen, and use this information to study and protect nature. 

You can even bring the learners back to their observations in a later session, to see what identifications have been confirmed or provided by the iNaturalist community.  

No apps or internet access?

If you can't download the iNaturalistUK app, or don’t have internet access from your mobile devices, you can use a device camera or a traditional digital camera to take photos, then add your images directly to the iNaturalistUK website using the ‘Upload’ function. Look for the green upload button in the top right corner. 


Please note, the Nature Park Wildlife Observations Map is updated overnight, so your sightings wont appear there immediately but will be instantly available on iNaturalistUK.