John Francis is National Geographic Vice President of Research, Conservation and Exploration. He talks here about BioBlitz 2011, the fifth annual species inventory in a U.S. national park adjacent to a major urban area.
National Geographic and the National Park Service have teamed up to host 10 annual BioBlitzes that will be held at urban national park units around the U.S., leading up to the Park Service’s centennial in 2016. Today’s event is the fifth BioBlitz in the series. The first BioBlitz was held at Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., in 2007; Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in California was the BioBlitz site in 2008; Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was the site of the third BioBlitz in 2009; and last year’s BioBlitz was held at Biscayne National Park in Florida.
In this interview, Francis explains why the 10 BioBlitzes in the special series are always in parks near large urban areas. “We’re trying to awaken people who don’t really understand their deep connection with nature,” he says. “Sometimes in the urban setting you don’t get out into nature. But there are parks around the country that are close to the city, and we want to get the schoolchildren and the families into the park, to get them to be with those who really know it and love it and get them bitten by the bug that’s so exciting about loving nature through these BioBlitz activities.”
John Francis sees the BioBlitz as not being about only the park, but also the city alongside, the whole fabric, including the urban areas, that we need to look after. “We can rewild our natural world. We can go into our schools and do BioBlitzes, we can go into our backyards, we can think about what it takes to have whole functioning nature. We can celebrate it and we can enrich it, and so that whole idea of using the parks as a jumping off point … is really at the heart of what the BioBlitz is trying to achieve.
Watch the video interview for more of what John Francis has to say about the BioBlitz and how the concept may inspire the scientists of tomorrow.