App Design Meets Wetland Stewardship

Meet Maria Belen Scaglia, an Interaction Design major at Emily Carr University of Art and Design (Vancouver). With her passion for community engagement and a budding interest in local wetland conservation, she has taken on an ambitious and potentially game-changing final project which she hopes to develop beyond her graduation.

Last night we had our first meeting with Maria to assist in the development of her wetland conservation app called “Flock” (seen at her fingertips in the picture above). This meeting was initiated after Maria Scagalia presented a video interview she participated in creating as part of a Community Projects course, “Natural Capital”, that was put on in partnership between the University and the David Suzuki Foundation. We attended the public presentation of student projects at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery in late 2012, and were pleased with the enthusiasm that many of the students showed for our local wetlands. Maria is one of these students who developed a deep appreciation for wetlands (bogs in particular after visits to the Camosun Bog) and now hopes to contribute her specific design skills to help further stewardship initiatives.

 “The idea started by wanting to find a place as a volunteer with little experience. What could I bring to the table that will have a greater impact than the hours I can provide on Saturday mornings? What other kinds of things could I be involved in to help? I think these are the barriers that stop individuals from venturing out to help groups: lack of knowledge, connections, or even just not understanding what they could do to act. This is where Flock originated.”

The BCWF Wetlands Education Program is currently contributing wetland resources and feedback on usability of her design. There will be many exciting features in the app, including one which will make mapping or recognizing little known wetlands as easy as taking a picture and geo-locating it with a smart phone. Other aspects of the app will connect stewards on particular projects and will recognize the achievements of those who devote extraordinary efforts to wetland conservation.

Maria will be attending our upcoming Map Our Marshes course at Burnaby Lake, and is keen to learn as much as she can about the needs of wetland stewardship. She will also host an upcoming workshop for further feedback on her concept.

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