about us

The Atlas of Life in the Coastal Wilderness is an ongoing citizen-science project. It was originally the initiative of a small group of dedicated people who, in 2011, recognised the biological importance of the far south coastal region of NSW. They sought to encourage the documentation of the area’s biodiversity, building a community-based resource and network of contributors.

The Atlas of Life has grown to involve hundreds of people, numerous organisations, and a wide variety of projects and initiatives. It is a volunteer, non-profit organisation now recognised as a Registered Environmental Organisation.

One part of the  Atlas of Life  region (photo courtesy of  Richard Green  )

One part of the Atlas of Life region (photo courtesy of Richard Green )


The Region

The Atlas of Life encompasses the coast and hinterlands of the south-eastern corner of Australia - from the Great Dividing Range in the west, to the coast of New South Wales and eastern Victoria; from just north of Narooma in the north, to beyond Mallacoota in the south. The region corresponds to the ‘South East Corner Bioregion' recognised under the IBRA environmental planning framework adopted by Australian governments.


Click the map to view in detail, via  NatureMapr  database site

Click the map to view in detail, via NatureMapr database site

As well as great tracts of National Park forests, heathland and riverine landscapes, the area has a coastline of spectacular and unspoiled beauty. Here the warm Eastern Australian Current flowing from the north, meets the cold, nutrient rich current from the Antarctic, creating rich upwellings and significant biodiversity. This is the first where place the humpback whales feed on their migrations south after breeding in the tropics. Here we find the edge of the range of a number of species. We know for some of these species that their ranges are shifting, so mapping their current locations will be valuable to scientists in the future. 


the Atlas of Life Objectives

  1. To foster understanding and stewardship of the world we live in by encouraging community involvement in real scientific endeavour 

  2. To encourage lifelong learning in and about nature for all ages and abilities, including the general public, our indigenous community, the young and the very young, disadvantaged and disabled

  3. To use developing technology and develop multiple tools, training and activities to build capacity within our community to undertake and understand the results of scientific research

  4. Through engagement and understanding, encourage a greater sense of appreciation and stewardship of our local environment

  5. To undertake a range of surveys over time and in multiple locations including but not limited to: observing biodiversity, identifying invasive species and noting the impact of environmental change on habitat and species 

  6. Over the long-term, to create a rich and broad database of validated biodiversity data which will be a valuable resource for scientists, naturalists, educators and community into the future

  7. To work with the scientific community in achieving the objects of the association and encourage scientists and naturalists to share their knowledge with the community

  8. To liaise with government and non-government agencies and organisations, build co-operative arrangements and work with others to achieve the objects of the association.

  9. To be politically neutral

  10. To undertake such other activities that are incidental to, and supportive of, the above objects.


How to be involved

Everyone is encouraged to become involved with the Atlas of Life program of events and activities: locals and visitors; experienced biologists and people new to nature watching; individuals and organisations; adults and children. 

  • Start contributing your own nature observations to the database. Simply register on NatureMapr and 'Report a Sighting’. Read more.

  • Keep up-to-date on news and events by signing up to our email newsletter, or by following us on Facebook.

  • Come along to Atlas Naturalists Field Days and Workshops: held throughout the year, throughout the region. Read more

  • Suggest a story for publication in the 'Creature Feature' section of the Atlas of Life website. Contact us.

  • If you have particular expertise with a group of organisms, consider sharing your knowledge by becoming a NatureMapr moderator. Contact us.


Partner organisations & affiliations

Canberra Nature Map (CNM) and other naturemapr groups

A complementary project to the Atlas of Life, CNM covers the adjoining region to the west, including Canberra, Goulburn and south to the Victorian border. They too use the NatureMapr recording platform, and many of the moderators of CNM also moderate sightings on the Atlas of Life NatureMapr. Link to Canberra Nature Map.

Similarly, Budawang Coast NatureMapr covers the adjoining region to our north. Link to Budawang Coast NatureMapr

Sapphire Coast Science Hub

A group of organisations with a common interest in things scientific and in encouraging everyone to engage with our environment and enjoy scientific activities to learn more and contribute towards a more sustainable future.  Current membership includes: Atlas of Life in the Coastal Wilderness; Sapphire Coast Marine Society; Bournda Environmental Education Centre; Panboola; Australian Plant Society; Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre; Conservation Management Network; Coastal Wetland Carers Network; Mat-Sci-Tec - Into IT; Bega Valley Shire Council; Local Land Services (OEH); Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service); On The Perch; Auswide Projects, Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority, Nature Coast Marine Group, Landcare NSW and the Australian Museum.


Organisational structure & administration

Current (from May, 2019) – Office Bearers: David (Macca) McKenzie (Chair), Andrew Morrison (Vice Chair), Jennifer Wilcox (Treasurer), Maggie Clowes (Secretary). Committee Members:  Libby Hepburn, Paul Whitington, Liz Allen, Paul Whittock,  Patricia Daly, Elizabeth Walton.