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New QR codes can help connect us to nature

Small, square and monochromatic, quick response codes are jammed packed full of useful information.

Quick Response codes, commonly known as QR codes are small square barcodes that can be scanned by smartphones to access websites and information. The code consists of black square dots that are arranged in a square grid on a white background. They are similar to barcodes that can be found on many products in stores, but QR codes can be scanned by anyone with a smart phone.

Using QR codes is easy. Download a QR reader onto your smartphone, scan the code through the app and it will take you to the website. Depending on how fast your internet connection is, the whole process can take less than 30 seconds.

So how are QR codes related to the Couchiching Conservancy and land conservation? Outdoor enthusiasts are increasingly looking to technology to help them to learn more about the natural world. There are hundreds of apps available to download to help identify birds, log sightings and share information online with others. For example, searching for ‘bird guide’ on the iTunes App Store yields 271 results. Included in those search results are apps that house whole databases of information, bird calls and pictures. Many of these apps are free and can be downloaded for your iPod, iPhone or Android device. And for visitors to Conservancy properties, sharing information with trail users and visitors will be easier, thanks to QR codes.

With a special grant from Mountain Equipment Co-op, the Conservancy was able to create QR codes to share information with people about our properties. Stickers have been printed and added to properties that are owned by the Conservancy. These high quality, water resistant stickers that will be able to last through any type of weather.

The main benefit to the Conservancy and users of our properties is the ease of access to information. For someone visiting a property for the first time, they can scan the QR code and find out what kind of trees and plants grow there, or what kind of birds they could see. Rather than searching online for the property name, or the Couchiching Conservancy, people can just scan the code and be taken directly to information on that property. From there you can find out what is unique about the property. For example, people can scan the QR code at Grant’s Woods and gain access to the trail map.

The codes were originally used in the automotive industry, but over the years they have gained popularity in other markets. Many companies use QR codes on posters, advertisements and flyers. The possibilities with QR codes are endless – they can even be put on tshirts.

Next time you visit a Conservancy owned property, take a second to scan a QR code and learn more about the properties that we help to protect.

Written by Tanya Clark. The photo of Tanya was taken by David Hawke.