How to use Technology to Connect with Nature: Top 5 Nature and Wildlife Apps

Sarah Mac on 14th Jun 2020

Technology has for some time been blamed for disconnecting people with the outside world, especially with nature. But switch this around and we could all actually be using technology to help us learn great stuff as we discover the value of spending more time outdoors. So with this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best apps for the nature and outdoor lover.

Map your way

If you’re a keen walker or rambler, you’ll be familiar with the convenience of Google Maps to keep you on track. But frustrations do tend to surface when that trusty old 4G signal fades and those unwieldy OS maps have to be pulled out of the bag. There’s a great solution though in the shape of route guide and outdoor map apps.

ViewRanger is a digital outdoor guide complete with downloadable route guides and navigation features that are smart enough to work offline anyway in the world, even if your data coverage goes down. Just save all the maps and route guides you need directly to your device before you set off and you’re good to go. Available for Apple and Android, you can try it for free for seven days, then choose the subscription option that best suits you.

Name that birdsong in one

Ever been stopped in your tracks by the most harmonic birdsong ever and just had to know there and then whose beak it was emanating from? Us too. That’s why we love ChirpOMatic! It’s like having your own personal ornithologist as a walking companion. It’s a Shazaam-style technology that allows you to ID birds just by letting your Apple device listen to their call. Bonus is that it works without a data connection too, so even if you’re out in the middle of the wilderness, you still get to find out what that bird is.

Need a birdsong app that’s compatible with Android too? Take a look at Warblr. This one involves recording the call, so it’s not as instant as ChirpOMatic, but by using Warblr you’ll be contributing to a citizen science project as all the recordings are shared for research and conservation purposes. Over 220 species of British birds can be recognised.

Identify butterflies

There are 71 species of butterfly recorded in the UK and Ireland, so it’s going to take something pretty special to help you identify the not so common ones that flutter by. Step in the free Butterfly Conservation app, iRecord Butterflies.

This is an easy to use app for Apple and Android that not only guides you through the identification of any butterfly you spot in the UK, but that also lets you add your sighting to millions of other valuable records that help Butterfly Conservation do its wonderful work. With the records showing how butterflies are faring, conservation efforts can be targeted at those most at risk of extinction.

ID a tree

The brilliant people at the Woodland Trust have invented this fantastic Tree ID app for Apple and Android, allowing you to ID any of the UK’s native and non-native trees as you make your way through woods and meadows. Consider it, they say, an A-Z tree guide in your pocket.

The great thing about this free app is you can use any element of the tree to ID, so it works any time of the year. Leaves, bark, twigs, buds, flowers or fruit can all be used to help you discover the tree that towers or blooms before you.