9 Reasons Social Media and the Web Can Save Wildlife

It is my personal belief that social media can play a huge role in helping protect wildlife. Being a part of the information age is incredible and overwhelming at times, but I can’t help but be optimistic that we are in a better place than ever before to save wildlife.Why?


1. There are countless educational resources at your finger tips.
The flow of information is phenomenal on the web. While it is always good to get your news from a number of sources, I think more now than ever it’s important to be authentic or your false message will be exposed. That being said, organizations like the National Wildlife Federation can spread important wildlife information and offer up
fantastic resources for people interested in making less of an impact on the earth. Through social media sites that focus on news like Mixx, Digg and Reddit, we can share upcoming news and help push out correct information.

National Wildlife Week – Educational Resources
45+ ways to help wildlife in your backyard
eNature’s Wildlife Resource
NRDC’s Saving Biogems

Socialmedia2. Taking action has never been easier.
Wildlife conservation depends greatly on policy changes. Luckily, the ways for people to take action have increased and communicating with your representative has never been easier. Whether you’re writing a handwritten letter or writing an email, the internet is helping to spread the word about all kinds of wildlife issues like never before. NWF also sees great engagement coming from sites like Change.org and Care2.com. Social media is a great way to help organize movements, enact change for wildlife and influence decision makers.

Take Action for Wildlife
Join NWF’s community for Action Takers

3. Nature photography and art can be shared with a simple click.
I wrote a recent article on Green Upgrader that talked about the importance of art in the environmental movement. It helps keep the importance and beauty of our earth in the hearts and minds of people. There is so much potential with sites like Flickr to share the beauty and wonder of nature!

Irreplaceable: Wildlife In a Warming World
NWF’s Flickr Group for Wildlife Watch

4. New ideas and concepts have a place to be discussed and critiqued.
When it comes to ideas, concepts, designs and other such things, the conservation movement is benefiting greatly from social media because the communication easily crosses continents and borders. Through social media, creative minds are coming together, ideas are being shared and people .

Inhabitat’s Blog on Green Design
Max Gladwell’s Blog on Sustainability
Mark Lovett’s Global Patriot
Adam Shake’s Twilight Earth

(photo by Mike Baird on Flickr)

5. Nature can be found easier- therefore protected and enjoyed.

When people socialize it’s not all just fun and games. But sometimes it is. NWF’s Green Hour program works hard to connect people to nature and encourages them to Be Out There. Well, with social media and online resources, spreading information such as NatureFind is much easier and more efficient.

NatureFind: Find Nature Nearby
Find Playspaces and Join the Challenge

NWF’s Green Hour
Be Out There Campaign

6. You can donate to (and fundraise for) causes more efficiently.
While emails and web ads asking for donations can get slightly irritating, the more we can decrease our sending donation asks through the mail the better. It is much easier to donate/fundraise for causes you care about on the web and it cuts back on resources and leaves the water and trees for wildlife. In some cases, like the toolbar that Freecause offers or search engine by Good Search can also offer unique ways for people to “donate”.
Donate to NWF
NWF’s FreeCause Toolbar
Click to Donate to the Rainforest Site


7. Data Collection:
The data we collect on wildlife specimens is incredibly important and needs to be accurate. Using the social web and communication tools we can efficiently update databases through online databases and cut back on the time that passes before information is collected. Also–it’s useful to house the data with online tools so that it is accessible to other scientists in the field.

Here are some great citizen science programs:
Christmas Bird Count
The Great Backyard Bird Count
Journey North
The Daily Green’s 20+ Citizen Science Projects

8.  Quick Response:
With social sites such as Twitter, we can know more about our surroundings quicker with more time to react. We’ve seen people using Twitter update others on bushfires, earthquakes and other natural disasters. Well with tools like this we can really make efforts to correct and help save wildlife by being able to respond quickly.

Bush Fires
NWF’s wildlife watch on Twitter
Humane Society’s Seal Hunt

9. It has really helped identify community leaders and volunteers.
With the help of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Myspace, I have had the pleasure of getting to know some of our most impressive activists. Social sites are a great place to collaborate and it especially helps organizations get to know some incredible organizers.

North Carolina Wildlife Federation’s Ning Site
Moorehead Community Habitat Team
…to name just a few!

Now, I know there are many other ways to help– so I’m ready to hear your ideas! At the very least these are a few broad ways that social media is helping. And I think when used responsibly — the online world can really help us reach out and connect– all while making a difference for wildlife!

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Published: March 25, 2009