How to make a Place on iNaturalist

Modified on Tue, 06 Feb 2024 at 03:38 PM

In order to create a new Place, your account must have at least 50 verifiable observations. The observations do not need to be made in the area where you want to make a Place, they can be observed anywhere.


Once you have reached 50 verifiable observations it might take up to an hour for the system to recognize you've met the requirement. Places on iNaturalist can only be created by uploading a KML file.


Because adding, deleting, or editing the boundary of a Place are taxing on iNaturalist's infrastructure, there are some restrictions to making a Place:


  • A new Place can't contain more than 100,000 observations in its boundary
  • A new Place can't be larger than about the size of the US state of Texas (about 695,662 sq. km or 268,596 sq. mi.)
  • You can only make 3 new Places per day
  • KML files can be no larger than 1 mb in size (5 mb for Curators)

How to make a Place on iNaturalist


Start by clicking on Places under More in the header. This will take you to the Places page.




Then click Add a new place.


  1. Read the text in the yellow Warning banner

  2. Enter the name of your Place (Place names must be unique)

  3. If the Place falls completely within some other existing iNaturalist Place, like a state or county, add that Place as the parent

  4. Upload the boundary as a KML file. KML polygons can be created with free Google Earth or Google Maps, GIS applications like QGIS or ArcGIS. We do not support KMZ files, so please double-check the file extension

  5. Save your place

  6. It may take iNaturalist several hours or up to a day to process the Place



How to draw a boundary for iNaturalist using Google Maps


Here is a tutorial for drawing a shape in Google MyMaps, which can be imported into iNaturalist. You'll need a Google Account to do this.


  1. Go to https://mymaps.google.com/

  2. Click Create a New Map and zoom to your area of interest, here I’m drawing a Place for the New York State Fairgrounds



  3. Choose Draw a line->Add line or shape


  4. Outline your area, clicking the first point again to complete the polygon, then give it a name and save it



  5. Click the three vertical dots next to your layer name, then Export data->KML/KMZ



  6. Use this KML to make a new Place.


(Adapted with permission from Jane Widness's tutorial on the iNaturalist Forum)



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