Type of site
Citizen science
Area servedWorldwide
Launched2004; 20 years ago (2004)
Current statusActive

Observation.org is a worldwide platform of naturalists, citizen scientists, and biologists to collect, validate and share biodiversity observations. Observation.org may be accessed via its website or from its mobile applications like ObsIdentify. The Observation.org database holds 233 million nature observations and 79 million photos.[1] It is published and hosted in the Netherlands under Dutch and European law by the non-profit foundation Observation International.[2]


The history of Observation International started in 2003 with the website Waarneming.nl. In 2017 Waarneming.nl counted 50 million observations.[3] Waarneming.be followed in 2008. There were 5000 daily visitors and a total of 1.5 million after 5 years.[4] During the COVID-19 pandemic location data of observations were hidden to prevent gathering of bird watchers.[5]

Quality assurance

Quality assurance measures on Observation.org is managed by established species experts responsible for curating the reference set of observations.[6] Automated validation, supported by artificial intelligence, uses this reference set to aid validators in managing the extensive dataset. However, human experts retain final authority in all validation matters.[7][8]

Open data

Map of Observation.org data on GBIF

The observations that have been approved are shared as open data on Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).[9] The dataset comprises approximately 82 million occurrences, 19 million annotated photos[10] and 69,000 annotated sound recordings.[11] Observation.org is the third largest publisher of the world on GBIF.[12]

Use of Observation.org data

As of December 2023, more than 1,700 research results have been published that cite the Observation.org dataset on GBIF[13], often in the fields of ecology, conservation, climate change. This research includes for example the discovery of new species for a country [14][15][16], documentation of changes in behavior[17][18], monitoring invasive alien species[19][20][21][22][23], finding causes of local extinction [24] and tracking zoonoses such as Avian influenza[25]. Other examples are the integration of nature data into national research programmes[26][27] and European biodiversity projects[28][29]. The annotated Observation.org photos are used to train automatic species recognition models.[30][31]

Users of Observation.org regularly participate in Bioblitzes to collaboratively collect nature observations. Examples of these Bioblitzes are the City Nature Challenge[32][33] and the Biomaratón de Otoño in Spain[34].

Public Perception

International names

In the Netherlands, Observation.org is primarily known as Waarneming.nl[40]. In the Dutch Caribbean, the name Observation.org is used[41]. In Belgium, the platform is primarily known as Waarnemingen.be[42] (Flanders) and Observations.be[43] (Wallonia).


  1. ^ "Statistics". Observation.org. Retrieved 2023-12-24.
  2. ^ "Observation International". observation-international.org. Retrieved 2023-12-25.
  3. ^ "50 miljoen waarnemingen op Waarneming.nl - Vroege Vogels - BNNVARA". Vroege Vogels (in Dutch). 2017-10-08. Retrieved 2023-12-29.
  4. ^ Vanreusel, Wouter (2012-12-03). "Waarnemingen.be rondt de kaap van 10 miljoen". www.naturetoday.com (in Dutch). Retrieved 2023-12-29.
  5. ^ van den Buijs, Dennis (2020-03-26). "Natuurpunt verbergt waarnemingen zeldzame vogels:"Samenscholing spotters vermijden"". vrtnws.be (in Dutch). Retrieved 2023-12-29.
  6. ^ "Validation". Observation.org. Retrieved 2023-12-24.
  7. ^ Van Eupen, Camille; Maes, Dirk; Herremans, Marc; Swinnen, Kristijn R.R.; Somers, Ben; Luca, Stijn (2021-03-15). "The impact of data quality filtering of opportunistic citizen science data on species distribution model performance". Ecological Modelling. 444. doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2021.109453. hdl:1854/LU-8693490.
  8. ^ "Biodiversitätsdaten, Citizen Science und Online-Erfassungssysteme" (PDF). ANLiegen Natur (in German). 43. Retrieved 2023-12-25.
  9. ^ "Observation.org". gbif.org. Retrieved 2023-12-24.
  10. ^ "Search occurrences -- Observation.org Image". gbif.org. Retrieved 2023-12-25.
  11. ^ "Search occurrences -- Observation.org Audio". gbif.org. Retrieved 2023-12-25.
  12. ^ "Search datasets". gbif.org. Retrieved 2023-12-24.
  13. ^ "Resources search -- Observation.org". gbif.org.
  14. ^ "Hittegolf bracht Afrikaanse oranje zonnewijzer naar België". natuurpunt.be (in Dutch). Retrieved 2023-12-25.
  15. ^ "Spoorkrekel duikt voor het eerst op in België". natuurpunt.be (in Dutch). Retrieved 2023-12-25.
  16. ^ "Twee nieuwe sprinkhanen in 2022: grote spitskop en spoorkrekel" (PDF). hetnatuurhistorisch.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 2023-12-25.
  17. ^ Herremans, Marc; Gielen, Karin; Van Kerckhoven, Jos; Vanormelingen, Pieter; Veraghtert, Wim; Swinnen, Kristijn R.R.; Maes, Dirk (2021-07-29). "Abundant Citizen Science Data Reveal That the Peacock Butterfly Aglais io Recently Became Bivoltine in Belgium". Insects. 12 (8): 683. doi:10.3390/insects12080683. PMC 8396639. PMID 34442249.
  18. ^ Dufour, Paul; et al. "Are Red-rumped Swallows starting to winter in the Western Palearctic?". Dutch Birding. 42: 111–113.
  19. ^ Johnson, Brian Alan; Mader, André Derek; Dasgupta, Rajarshi; Kumar, Pankaj (March 2020). "Citizen science and invasive alien species: An analysis of citizen science initiatives using information and communications technology (ICT) to collect invasive alien species observations". Global Ecology and Conservation. 21: e00812. doi:10.1016/j.gecco.2019.e00812.
  20. ^ "Eerste vondst van de Aziatische hoornaar Vespa velutina nigrithorax in Nederland (Hymenoptera: Vespidae)". Nederlandse Faunistische Mededelingen (in Dutch). 49: 1–10. 2017.
  21. ^ "De opmars van de Aziatische hoornaar (Vespa velutina) naar Nederland" (PDF). Entomologische Berichten (in Dutch). 78. 2018.
  22. ^ Sevgili, Hasan; Yilmaz, Kaan (2022). "Contributions of citizen scientists to monitoring alien species: the case study on Giant Asian Mantes, Hierodula tenuidentata and H. patellifera (Mantodea: Mantidae)". Zoology in the Middle East. 68 (4): 350–358. doi:10.1080/09397140.2022.2145802. S2CID 254638249.
  23. ^ Ravoet, Jorgen; Barbier, Yvan; Klein, Wim (2017). "First observation of another invasive mud dauber wasp in Belgium: Sceliphron caementarium (Drury, 1773) (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae)". Bulletin de la Société royale belge d'Entomologie/Bulletin van de Koninklijke Belgische Vereniging voor Entomologie. 153: 40–42.
  24. ^ Gil-Tapetado, Diego; et al. (2023). "Aridity could have driven the local extinction of a common and multivoltine butterfly". Ecological Entomology. 48 (1): 40–54. Bibcode:2023EcoEn..48...40G. doi:10.1111/een.13200. Retrieved 2023-12-26.
  25. ^ Saavedra, Irene; Rabadán-González, Julio; Aragonés, David; Figuerola, Jordi (2023-09-21). "Can Citizen Science Contribute to Avian Influenza Surveillance?". Pathogens. 12 (9): 1183. doi:10.3390/pathogens12091183. PMC 10535995. PMID 37764991.
  26. ^ "Libellenstatistiek". cbs.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 2023-12-27.
  27. ^ Boeken, Michiel (2019). "New avifaunal records and checklist for the island of Saba, Caribbean Netherlands". Journal of Caribbean Ornithology. 31: 57–64. doi:10.55431/jco.2018.31.57-64.
  28. ^ "Contribution of Observation.org to Ebba2 (Second European Breeding Bird Atlas)". agris.fao.org. Retrieved 2023-12-27.
  29. ^ "EuroBirdPortal -- Partners". eurobirdportal.org. Retrieved 2023-12-25.
  30. ^ Schermer, Maarten; Hogeweg, Laurens (17 May 2018). Supporting citizen scientists with automatic species identification using deep learning image recognition models (PDF). Biodiversity Information Science and Standards 2. Biodiversity Information and Standards. doi:10.3897/biss.2.25268.
  31. ^ Hogeweg, Laurens; Schermer, Maarten. Machine Learning Model for Identifying Dutch/ Belgian Biodiversity. Biodiversity Information Science and Standards 3. Biodiversity Information and Standards. doi:10.3897/biss.3.39229.
  32. ^ "City Nature Challenges in Österreich". citynaturechallenge.at (in German). Retrieved 2023-12-26.
  33. ^ Kaufmann, Peter; et al. "Der Bioblitz Salzburg 2021 auf Observation.org – eine Citizen Science Bestandserfassung der urbanen Biodiversität Salzburgs" (PDF). Mitteilungen aus dem Haus der Natur Salzburg (in German). 28: 5–20. Retrieved 2023-12-26.
  34. ^ "Biomaratón de otoño 2022". miteco.gob.es (in Spanish). Retrieved 2023-12-26.
  35. ^ Brown, Peter (2023). "Using Citizen Science with alien Species" (PDF). UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. Retrieved 2023-12-28.
  36. ^ "Apps for Identification". www.naturespot.org.uk. Retrieved 2023-12-28.
  37. ^ "The good, the bad and the middling - ID apps". Sussex Wildlife Trust. 2023-08-14. Retrieved 2023-12-28.
  38. ^ Coleman, Ellie (2023-11-29). "Helpful Apps for Identifying Wildlife". Natural History Society of Northumbria. Retrieved 2023-12-28.
  39. ^ Jones, Josh (August 2020). "The ideal companion - ObsIdentify app for IOS and Android". Pubhtml5. p. 49. Retrieved 2023-12-29.
  40. ^ "Interview with Hisko de Vries". overmeersevogels.com (in Dutch). Retrieved 2023-12-25.
  41. ^ "Observation.org". dcnanature.org. Retrieved 2023-12-25.
  42. ^ "Natuurpunt Studie -- Waarnemingen.be". natuurpunt.be (in Dutch). Retrieved 2023-12-25.
  43. ^ ""OBSERVATIONS.BE", UN PORTAIL D'ENCODAGE POUR TOUS". natagora.be (in French). Retrieved 2023-12-25.