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 now 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

The overarching objectives of the Atlas of Life are:

  • to build knowledge and share information about the biodiversity and ecology of the region;
  • to encourage the involvement of people from across the community, irrespective of their prior biological knowledge or scientific skills;
  • to document species ‘sightings’ and contribute these to the national biodiversity database, the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA);
  • to provide a ‘hub’ for related, citizen-science programs; and
  • to involve local land managers and the broader community in joint projects of shared interest.


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. 
  • Enter the annual photo competition. 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)

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.


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 Dec, 2017) – Office Bearers: Libby Hepburn (Chair), Patricia Daly (Vice Chair), Alan Hepburn (Treasurer), Maggie Clowes (Secretary). Group 1 Committee Members (to step down in 1 year): Libby Hepburn, Patricia Daly, Doug Reckord, Dean Ansell. Group 2 Committee Members (to step down in 2 year): Andrew Morrison, Maggie Clowes, Paul Whitington, Liz Allen, Paul Whittock.