Local laboratories for future life

By the Swedish Wiki Loves Earth team in cooperation with the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO

How can we work together to find solutions to global problems? The answer to the question lies in a combination of local involvement, and strong connections to research. Anna-Karin Johansson, the Secretary-General of the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO, explains how the UNESCO biosphere reserves work as model areas for sustainable development, and highlights Wiki Loves Earth as an example of strong local involvement in the biosphere reserves in Sweden.

Source, 1st winning photo of WLE 2020 in Sweden depicting Röttle Waterfall in Östra Vätterbranterna biosphere reserve, Jönköping municipality

We are facing large global challenges – social, economic and ecological. International cooperation is of prime importance if we want to fulfill the goals in the UN Strategy for Sustainable Development, Agenda 2030. But this cooperation needs to be built upon local involvement. Solutions will be found and spread at the local level.

That is the idea behind the biosphere reserves, a concept developed by the UN Agency UNESCO. UNESCO has listed more than 700 biosphere reserves across the world. By protecting biodiversity, searching for knowledge through research, and establishing a sustainable relationship between humans and environment, the biosphere reserves work as laboratories for future life.

Source, winner of a special award of WLE 2020 in Sweden for the best photo from a biosphere reserve, taken in Kristianstads Vattenrike biosphere reserve

Seven of these biosphere reserves are located in Sweden, and together, they cover 7% of the area of the country. In these biosphere reserves, people are working on a daily basis with pilot projects for a more sustainable way of living. In the biosphere reserve East Vättern Scarp Landscape, where the winning photo of this year’s Swedish edition of Wiki Loves Earth is taken, a project was recently carried out where newly arrived immigrants were taught how to keep beehives; and in the biosphere reserve Lake Vänern Archipelago, the world’s largest suncell driven hydrogen refuelling station has been built. Other examples include the biosphere reserve Blekinge Archipelago, which through the Ark65 project has contributed to sustainable tourism and a living countryside, and the northernmost biosphere reserve Vindelälven-Juhtathdahka which has formed new possibilities for dialogue between the Sami people and Swedes, and equally between city and countryside. These biosphere reserves work in the long term to become role models and inspire others.

Cooperation does not only take place within each individual biosphere reserve, but also between them. In the project Biosphere for Baltic, 9 biosphere reserves from 7 countries in the Baltic region are working to exchange experiences, among other things about the ecosystem of the sea and our knowledge about it.

Source, 5th winning photo of WLE 2020 in Sweden illustrating a common swan descending into the water in Kristianstad vattenrike, biosphere reserve in Skåne

The photo contest has shown the large involvement in Sweden of the 7 biosphere reserves. The Swedish National Commission for UNESCO is very proud to have been in the jury for this year’s competition. Among contributions in the competition, more than 130 photos were taken in a biosphere reserve. That’s a clear indication of the pride Swedes take in our biosphere reserves! 

Anna-Karin JohanssonSecretary-General of the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO

Find the full list of finalists of WLE in Swedenhttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Wiki_Loves_Earth_2020/Winners#Sweden
Check out local winners of other countrieshttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Wiki_Loves_Earth_2020/Winners.

Meet the winners of the first WLE in Turkey

By the Turkish Wiki Loves Earth team

Team of the first WLE in Turkey was expecting not more than 500 photos uploaded during the contest. At the end of the submission period, the jury had a task to select winners among over 3600 beautiful photos from all over Turkey!

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“When the herd of horses runs, you feel the Earth shaking”, Ömerali Şenakaylı. His photo of the Mount Erciyes and horses running through wetland won the third prize of the first WLE in Turkey. 

Let’s find out the story behind this photo!

This photo was taken in the area between Mount Erciyes, the highest mountain of Central Anatolia, and the world-known historical Cappadocia region. It captures Mount Erciyes, a small Hörmetçi village on the foothills of the mountain and semi-wild horses running through a wetland. Ömerali went there with two other photographers in February 2019 and met Ali who raises semi-wild horses (they are used by farmers during summer and left to nature during winter).  When the author took this photo, he felt like there was an earthquake: “When the herd of horses run, you feel the Earth shaking. We were all in mud up to our knees and mesmerized by the sunset”.

This photo is being used in some Wikipedia articles now. The photographer always reads Wikipedia and signed up during the pandemic period. Taking part in WLE became his first contribution, and now he is willing to share more of his photos to promote the beauty of Turkey. (In this sense, Ömerali’s story is common. Wiki Loves Earth is a powerful tool for attracting new users to Wikimedia projects; in some countries, up to 90-95% participants are newbies who registered after the competition start).

Şenakaylı emphasizes it was clear that WLE is not only about sharing good photos, but about increasing awareness on the protection of nature heritage sites, and this was very important to him. He believes that the Wikipedia community, which creates such a popular and big knowledge source, is also effective in promoting protected areas. But as a nature lover who does camping frequently, he has concerns about problems that might arise with raising popularity of these areas.

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“This contest shows us how precious our planet is”, – Murat Özçelik, the first prize winner of WLE in Turkey. His photo captures a bird paradise Eber Lake located in the Central Anatolian region. 

The photographer says it’s one of the most precious natural treasures of the place he lives in: “Eber Lake is a valuable wetland for our country with its reeds, fishermen and diversity of birds. We must do our best to keep our lake alive”. Murat founded a photography association in the region back in January 2014. Since then, he organized many photo trips to the lake with fellow members to capture its beauty at different seasons and make the lake known better. Thanks to such efforts, Eber Lake became a popular destination for photographers and nature-lovers in recent years. The winning photo was shot in 2017 with a drone.  Murat says that technological innovations, which allow transition from analogue to digital photography, give him the opportunity to capture views he dreamed of and this photo is a good example. The drone allowed him to capture the lake, Mount Emir, the fisherman on his way home and the sky reflected in still water at the same frame. 

Murat is a Wikipedia reader and sees it as one of the most valuable and reliable sources. He was not a contributor before the contest, but now many language editions of Wikipedia illustrate the Eber Lake with this lovely photo. 

The photographer shared his thoughts and feelings about WLE: “Wiki Loves Earth doesn’t only make protected areas more visible, but also shows us how precious our planet is. After seeing photos uploaded during the contest people might recognize and appreciate the natural beauty nearby and say “how I was not aware of such beauty before”. I hope the interest in the contest will continue to grow over the years, and the number of such activities will increase to raise awareness and love to nature as well as promoting and protecting it”.

Find the full list of finalists of WLE in Turkey https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Wiki_Loves_Earth_2020/Winners#Turkey.

Check out local winners of other countries https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Wiki_Loves_Earth_2020/Winners.

Follow us on social media to stay updated:

Wiki Loves Earth is running around the world!

July is the last month of the Wiki Loves Earth photo contest this year. Let’s take a virtual trip around countries that have ongoing competitions!  

May and June have brought more than 70k photos of nature monuments from 25 countries, but more is to come. These photos help to draw attention to protected areas, illustrate wiki projects and have a chance to win on a local and international level. We are already halfway through the last WLE month July. Take a look at local contests running all over the world:

Ireland
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Ireland organizes WLE for the first time, and we are excited about this contest and its results so far! This island has unique nature and a variety of national parks, nature reserves and geoparks.

Find more details about the Irish contest.

Spain
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Spain participates in WLE for the 6th time! The Spanish team has created a really useful map of nature monuments where you can easily find an object and upload your submissions, take a look. 

Find more details about the Spanish contest.

Canada
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Now we move up north: WLE in Canada is waiting for your photos of its natural parks, conservation and wildlife areas. Did you know that this country has a huge number of lakes? Just imagine, 561 of them have a surface area larger than 100 km2!

Find more details about the Canadian contest.

Brazil
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The largest country in South America has an extremely wide variety of nature monuments and species. This year, it’s already the 7th edition of WLE in Brazil, meaning that Brazil has been participating each time since the contest became international!

Do you want to know more? Check out the contest page.

Ukraine
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Did you know that Wiki Loves Earth photo contest started in Ukraine in 2013? Then the contest became international in 2014. This country has the longest WLE history and has the 8th edition running right now!

Check out details about WLE 2020 in Ukraine.

Austria
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This year WLE in Austria is a part of a contest WikiDaheim. It’s focused on Austrian villages and areas: their monuments, nature, infrastructure, cellar streets, public art. By taking pictures or writing articles participants help to document aspects of life in Austria.

Find more details about the Austrian WLE.

Kenya
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Kenya has already organized 6 editions of Wiki Loves Africa, and it’s their first WLE this year! 

Overall, Wiki Loves Earth 2020 was organized in 7 countries across African continent. What are challenges and opportunities of WLE in Africa? Find out in our blog post from last year.

More details about WLE in Kenya.

Portugal
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From mountain ranges to natural parks at the Atlantic ocean Portugal has incredibly diverse nature. Apart from the continental part of the country, we can also help to document unique protected areas, flora and fauna of Portuguese islands. Just take a look at this photo of the Corvo island, Azores!

Find more details about the contest in Portugal.

Belarus
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Belarus organizes Wiki Loves Earth for the first time this year and has great results so far. 

We are happy to welcome new members to the WLE family! Do you want to start a contest in your country next year? Check out our guide and email us at wle-team@wikimedia.org.ua.

More info about WLE in Belarus.

Benin
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The second edition of WLE in Benin is gathering photos of its nature monuments! This country has large national parks — home for various mammals and predators.

Unfortunately, eco-systems of Benin have been subject to severe misuse by deforestation. WLE helps to document such problems and attract public attention to them.

Find more details about WLE in Benin.

Bolivia
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Bolivian nature is breathtaking, unique, and needs to be shown to the world. Many articles about nature monuments in Bolivia are still lacking photos, and their first WLE is aimed to fix that.

Don’t forget that after uploading your submissions you can also help Wikipedia by adding your photos to relevant articles and lists!

Check out more information about WLE in Bolivia. 

Latvia
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Latvia joined WLE in 2017 and has joined every edition ever since. Last year this Latvian photo of sunrise in Ķemeri national park got to the list of winners of the international round. Let’s see which countries will get to our top-15 this year!

More details about WLE in Latvia.

Malaysia
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Do you have any photos of animals/birds in a protected area? They are eligible for the contest, too! Take note that your photo will be more likely to win if it depicts a common representative for the particular area and includes coordinates.

This Bornean green magpie won the local contest in Malaysia last year. This country has bright flora and fauna that needs to be documented.

Check out the contest page of WLE in Malaysia.  

Rwanda
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What do you know about Rwanda? This country is one of the smallest in Africa and has a rich wildlife. For example, Volcanoes National Park is home for the mountain gorilla population, which includes only about 1,000 individuals in the world.

Help to document nature of Rwanda! More information about the local WLE.

Tanzania
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Tanzania joined WLE last year and is back again to the competition in 2020! African nature is often poorly documented on the Internet. Wiki Loves Earth in African countries helps to close the gap and illustrate Wikipedia articles about protected areas of this continent.

Upload your pictures of nature monuments in Tanzania!

Do you have any questions about Wiki Loves Earth? Maybe you want to organize WLE in your country next year?

Contact us at wle-team@wikimedia.org.ua and we will tell you everything you want to know!

Follow us on social media to stay updated:

The first month of WLE 2020 has passed!

The first month of Wiki Loves Earth contest the biggest international photo contest devoted to nature heritage has passed and brought amazing results for the wiki community.

Wiki Loves Earth photo contest runs from May 1 till July 31 this year. During these three months, we are gathering photos of protected sites that will help to draw attention to these areas and illustrate wiki projects. We are excited about the results of May so far, just look at these numbers:  

32 countries declared their participation in WLE this year (and we are looking forward to welcoming more organizers!);

37K photos have been uploaded (check them out by countries);

— and much more to come in June and July!

Let’s take a look at some photos uploaded during May:

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This photo was uploaded during this year’s contest in Sweden. It features a full moon in Abisko National Park far up north. Will we get a photo taken even farther? That’s a challenge for you!

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How about a picture taken at the highest point? This one was submitted as a part of WLE in Nepal and shows us a group of five lakes at the height of 4100 metres in Sindhupalchowk District. Can you find a WLE 2020 photo taken even higher? Or maybe you have one?

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Don’t forget that photos of animals/birds are eligible for the contest, too! But make sure that your photo of them is taken in a protected area. This one is from Taiwan, described by its author as: “Seabirds around the sky seems like inviting us to visit their sweet home which is built on the basalt, the special landscape of Penghu”.

Join Wiki Loves Earth to draw attention to protected areas and help to illustrate wikiprojects!

Take part in the contest:

Please, check a specific period of the contest in your region/country. Review our Rules, prepare your submissions and upload them to Wikimedia Commons.

Haven’t found your region/country on the list? Are you passionate about organizing? Start your local contest:

Check out our detailed guidelines about the process and contact us at wle-team@wikimedia.org.ua.

Follow us on social media to stay updated:

Digital tool that helps Wiki Loves Earth and the global community

By the Swedish Wiki Loves Earth Team

Wiki Loves Earth photo contest is on! One of the teams that have their local competitions in May is WLE in Sweden. This year they have implemented an innovative digital instrument for their lists of nature monuments an interactive map.

This user-friendly visualization of lists makes it easy and convenient to find an area and upload photos. It not only helps to reduce barriers in participating in WLE, but also can be improved/customized further and play an important role for the global community. We asked the team why and how they have developed this tool.

Map of objects, WLE in Sweden
— What is the idea behind this map, and what are its main features?

Wiki Loves Earth’s goal is to document and highlight the beauty of nature of our planet. But WLE also can be used strategically. Millions of people use Wikimedia projects daily, but very few of them decide to contribute. They may conceive of it as time-consuming, difficult or challenging. And Wiki Loves Earth helps to involve new contributors and drastically lower barriers for editing Wikipedia, which is also an important goal of this global contest.

Bearing this in mind, we spent some time considering how we can contribute to lower these barriers even further. What aspects make it hard for people to contribute today, even if they would like? How can we make it easy for anyone who sees the WLE banner on top of Wikipedia to upload their photos?

The problem we tackle is navigation around lists of objects. Participants have to go through many layers of lists on Wikipedia, using information from different platforms. They need to know how to navigate around pages on Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons and how to find out where objects are situated. Many Swedish municipalities are very large, so only saying that an object is based in a municipality doesn’t say much for someone who doesn’t know the area very well.

The way of solving the complexity of both lists and coordinates is to develop a map. Using shapefiles of all national parks, natural reserves, biosphere reserves and natural monuments from the Environmental Protection Agency of Sweden, we created a map of these objects. Its features are:

  • it helps to see all the objects;
  • objects have different colours: green already have photos and blue objects are lacking them;
  • it includes a direct link to the upload campaign, so people can upload a photo directly from the map.

It brings us closer to lowering the barriers for contributing photos.

Map of objects, WLE in Sweden
What was the development process of this map?

It has been developed using the Minimal Viable Product-design pattern in three iterations searching for features and our priorities.

From the technical side, we used a Java backend. Every few minutes it polls Wikidata for updated entities since the previous poll with an identity claim for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Natuvårdsverket ID, P3613). This allows to download all relevant entries from Wikidata and keep the local data store semi-synchronized with Wikidata as new images are uploaded. One more feature is when zooming out and having multiple points on the map (e.g. 100 specific trees in a confined space) we transform the result to a simplified view. It helps to avoid overloading the client with a large number of complex polygons. This step is crucial for mobile view.

The map is an OpenStreetMap layer on which we draw polygons and markers.

Map of objects, WLE in Sweden
— How can it be used in other wikiprojects?

We believe that geodata has great potential for the Wikimedia platforms, and this project is a way of experimenting with that. The map so far is tuned according to the needs of Wikimedia Sverige, and it is not possible to apply it on other WLE local contests. But there are potential ways of internationalizing it:

  • Using it by different communities according to their needs (data storage, etc.). We can provide documentation on what is needed, but it’s important to have someone experienced enough with coding.
  • Making it generic and configurable across language versions.
  • Rebuilding it adding strategies of each country to produce a single global map.

We aim to collect feedback and input on the map’s functionality during WLE. But also we need help from the international community:

  • Is there interest from the international community in this kind of maps?
  • What would the international community like to see in this kind of map in that case? What works and what doesn’t work?
  • If it works, and if the international community wants a map of similar sorts, where should it be hosted? Where should we provide documentation?

Do you have any answers for these questions and feedback on this map? Please, contact Karl Wettin at karl.wettin@wikimedia.se and help to make editing Wikipedia better with this digital tool!

Wiki Loves Earth 2020 starts!

The 8th year in a row Wiki Loves Earth photo contest starts to collect photos of nature heritage sites all around the world. Join us to draw attention to protected areas and help to illustrate wikiprojects!

Started in 2013, Wiki Loves Earth has grown to the biggest worldwide contest devoted to nature heritage. From nature reserves of Brazil to national parks of Indonesia — we collected more than half a million photos of natural monuments. During May — July of 2020, we continue creating the biggest database of free images of protected sites. Moreover, the contest helps to raise public awareness about unique natural areas around our planet.

This year 24 countries have already joined Wiki Loves Earth! (and the list is extending) 
WLE 2020 Participating countries
WLE 2020 Participating countries, source.
Check out our first countries that have just started their contest today: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Philippines, Nepal, Sweden, Sri Lanka, Taiwan. 
How to join:
Do you love photography? Are you interested in nature monuments? Take part in the contest!

Please, check a specific period of the contest in your region/country (the international timeframe is from May to July). Review our Rules, prepare your submissions and upload them to Wikimedia Commons. 
Go through your archives, maybe you have some jewels from your region/country or captured some protected area while travelling.

Haven’t found your region/country on the list? Are you passionate about organizing? Start your local contest!

Check out our detailed guidelines about the process. If you would like to organize a local contest in your region/country, contact us at wle-team@wikimedia.org.ua.

It’s a challenging time right now. Until the world gets healthier, we have a great opportunity to make a positive impact online. Join Wiki Loves Earth 2020!

Follow us on social media to stay updated:

Join Wiki Loves Earth 2020!

Seven years of photo contests all around the world, 585k free photos of natural heritage sites, with around 130k being used in the wikiprojects — and we are going make these numbers and impact even bigger starting Wiki Loves Earth 2020!

This global photo contest aims to draw attention to protected nature areas and expand the database of free photos of natural heritage sites! And all participants have a chance to win international and local prizes. 
Wiki Loves Earth is organized through local contests coordinated by volunteers. By now, 18 countries joined the participating countries list, and the list is constantly growing! You can check whether your country participates in Wiki Loves Earth 2020 and find more information about it on the Wikimedia Commons page.

Do you want to take part in Wiki Loves Earth 2020?

Please check Rules for your submission and upload them to Wikimedia Commons under a free license that enables their free worldwide use. 

Do you want to organize Wiki Loves Earth 2020 in your country?

Check out our detailed guidelines about the process. Feel free to contact us at wle-team@wikimedia.org.ua, and we will support you on every step of your local Wiki Loves Earth 2020.
More news and updates are coming, follow us on social media:
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to write to us at wle-team@wikimedia.org.ua.