Using Your Phone to Help the Environment

June 2, 2015

Using your phone to help the environment

We are a big fan of trying to switch off when getting outside but that’s not to say your phone isn’t useful – it is.

The most obvious is that your phone could save you in an emergency but also you can use your phone for geocaching, which is a great activity that helps get kids hiking outside.

Well now there’s another use of your phone: ARC Explorer.

Not just a walking route app

Walking routes on the ARC Explorer app
On first impressions you may be forgiven for thinking this is an app that helps you find walking routes.

Again, this can be another good use of your phone, but actually the ARC Explorer app goes a lot further than that…

Become a Citizen Scientist

The clue is that this app has been developed with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

You use the app to record sightings of different birds and animals. With lots of people recording sightings, scientists can build up a good picture on the state of the species and the environment.

You can also use the app to record any damage you see, helping problems get resolved sooner.

Using ARC Explorer

Identifying Plans and Animals

Using ARC Explorer to identify the correct species
To help you identify the correct species, the app comes with a reference guide so that you can spot the correct things when you are out on your walk.

Click here to download a PDF version of their species list.

The Downside

We think this app is a fantastic idea.

Unfortunately it is only currently available for the Arun & Rother areas….ARC stands for the Arun and Rother Connections, which is an education programme created for Key Stage 2 pupils in the area.

So if you’re in the area, download the app and see what you can spot.

A Lot of Potential – Could Organisations Collaborate?

Using the Forestry Commission's app to identify trees
We think this app is a fantastic idea, but imagine if the app combined information from a number of organisations, with each organisation being able to see what people reported in its landscape. For example, I could see this working well for the RSPB, the National Trust, the Woodland Trust, the Forestry Commission, and even the Canal and River Trust.

You can already use the Forestry Commission app to identify trees, but wouldn’t it be good if you had one app to help identify everything.

Link it up with each organisation’s big list of trails, use technology like iFootpath to record new walks and share them, with mapping technology from the OS, and now the app is reaching a lot more people.

Throw in some challenges and information from the Woodland Trust’s Nature Detectives and now you’d have an app that families can use, with perhaps activities to spot different wildlife depending on the region they were in and the time of year.

Now that would be useful for parents, educational for kids, useful for scientists, and helpful to each organisation managing the landscape.

Hmm…. may be a future Get Out With The Kids app?  😉


I’ve since discovered a new app where you can take photos and upload them with the photo’s GPS position so that scientists can get a view of biodiversity in an area.

What’s more, if you are having trouble identifying something, the community on there will help identify what you spot.

Click here to find out more.


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Gav Grayston Contributor

Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

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