Public Lab Research note

How to visually document a site

by stevie |

The below activities from the Wetlands Toolkit, Workshop 2: Understanding your wetland site

Goals of this workshop:

This workshop will include doing a site visit and visual survey. There you will document information about the site as well as identifying the threats to the ecosystem

Estimated time: 1 hour

Materials to have on hand:
- Clipboards (one for each participant)
- Paper (2 per person)
- Large chart paper (3 pieces)
- Markers
- Pens
- Camera (if available) - Stopwatch or watch

Tell your participants ahead of time to bring:
- Field clothes and shoes (wellies/boots)



Estimated time 20 min.

Facilitator: A lot about working with monitoring is about observation, but not all of observation is about what we can see. Let’s spend a little time working with our senses observing what we can about where we are (Hand out clipboards, paper and pens). For the next 20 minutes we will do an activity that will focus on using our senses to help us with observation. Feel free to move around in this time, but try to do so quietly so everyone can capture their own observations. We will spend two minutes exploring each sense, and then a minute recording observations. I will lead you through the steps:
For each below: 2 minutes to observe, 1 minute to record what you observed

  • Close your eyes and and observe what can you hear.
  • Close your eyes and and observe what you can smell.
  • Open your eyes and observe what you can touch.
  • Open your eyes and observe what you can see.

As a group, document on white chart paper:

  • Any plant species you can identify
  • Any animals or aquatic life you can identify
  • What can be observed about the built environment in or around our site

Identifying the threats

Estimated time: 15 min

Define threats to the site

Facilitator Threats come in many forms. Let's try to characterize the threats that could be present in this ecosystem.

Have participants brainstorm threats to the site. Prompts for this could include:

  • pollution,
  • invasive species,
  • construction,
  • property or water flow being tampered

Review the threats you’ve identified together.

Document the site with your camera (if available)

Estimated time: 10min.

Have someone from the group photograph all the visual aspects of the site survey people have mentioned.


Have the group select someone who can compile the notes each person took on site observations, the group identified threats, and the photographs of the site. Post these back to the group on Public Lab under using the button below.

End of workshop

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Title Author Updated Likes
Introduction to Stormwater Workshop 1 Report @stevie 11 months ago

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