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Case study of the Biodiversity Unit by Wilderlands

A user centered adventure through the research Wilderlands




Environmental & Biodiversity protection


26 October - 21 December 2022





According to the World Economic Forum Global Risk Report 2022:

Biodiversity loss is amongst the three biggest threats facing humanity
Species are becoming extinct at a rate not seen since the last global mass extinction


Wilderlands is joining the global environmental community on a mission to protect 30% of nature by 2030 as part of the international goal

Their mission is to make biodiversity protection simple and accessible for all.


Wilderlands have created one of the world’s first voluntary biodiversity units. A Biological Diversity Unit (BDU), which represents 1sqm of permanently-protected Australian land, making it easy for individuals and organisations to start protecting nature today.


To help Wilderlands with their mission, I embarked on a research journey of 6 weeks, to provide a study and analysis of donations and dive into the way people donate, why? And how?

I attempted to also understand how do effective organisations mobilise people to act, along with the needs and drivers of individuals.

Brief & Research Goals

The brief focuses on conducting research analysis to help Wilderlands enhance their acquisition and growth strategies of individuals through the platform.


01. Understand how can we incentivise individuals to act and protect nature  through the purchase of BDUs)?

02 Uncover how to motivate existing members to enhance their impact by  purchasing more BDU’s, or sign up for a subscription.

My Role

Problem Space:

My responsibilities were focused on UX Research, where I conducted the interviews, surveys, and initial analysis of the problem, and then moved into the discovery phase to synthesize the information and form a better understanding of the users and their wants and needs.

Solution Space:

This project was a research only project, and does not include a solution, but rather recommendations for future implementations


I started the research process by conducting a stakeholder interview with Co-Founder & CEO of Wilderlands Ash Knop, where I had the opportunity to ask about the mission, vision, motivations, struggles, and the future of Wildeerlands.


Research how do effective organisations mobilise people to act for the environment and learn from the steps they take.

Get people to go out to nature to explore, learn and contribute to the cause.

Keep contributing to the 2030 goal to save 30% of nature.


After the stakeholder interview, I established some assumptions to go on and validate with the participants, e.g. It’s hard to understand the BDU concept, flexible donations are a must, a subscription model might not be popular.

Conducting the Research

To get access to multiple participants and be able to have a good sample of data for qualitative results, I designed an online survey, conducted some Guerilla Research by having casual interviews with participants from the general public, to understand what people think about the topic of biodiversity and the product. I followed that with a few 1:1 interviews to get a more focused, structured and controlled research, to ask the important questions and dive deeper into the whys? and hows?


With the information gathered from the different research methods, I started organising and analysing the collected data to uncover themes, patterns, ideas and concerns that people have, as this will help me narrow down the target audience and create the user’s personas and understand their pain points, wants and needs.

Research Plan

In this phase, I developed a research plan which contains a list of questions I needed answers to.

I selected different research methods to have a variety of situations and environment where I get information from users under different circumstances

This process allows me to validate which of my assumptions are correct and which are not, which will enable me to understand more about what the users think.


To source candidates for the research, I used a variety of channels as shown below, to interact with a diverse group of people, which can help uncover different perspectives and opinions about the same topic.

Empathy Map

Once I gathered the information from the research I conducted, I started analysing the data closely to find patterns, themes and key insights.

For my approach to this analysis, I made use of the Empathy map framework to organize and categorise the information in a logical manner, to make it easier to analyse.

Key Findings

The following are key findings from the research & analysis conducted over 6 weeks

People donate occasionally
Most people that I interviewed said that they donate occasionally but do tend to be willing to help a cause if there is a real need for it and they can trust the organization
Project updates and progress are a motivation
Most Participants said they would only donate again if they can clearly see the progress of the projects, the impact and achievements of the organization.
Which area to protect is not a priority
Surprisingly, I discovered that most people I interviewed, did not care too much about which area is being protected or for the posibility to choose an area, as much as just knowing that an area is being protected and that the goal is to expand to more
BDU concept is interesting & easy to understand
After reading the FAQ section on the website, the majority of people said that the concept of the BDU is pretty straight forward, easy to grasp and has the potential of simplifying the complex aspects of biodiversity protection involvment.
Flexible donations are desirable
Most participants mentioned they would be more likely willing to donate an amount they choose, financial situations change, so would their donation amount. Participants thought flexible donations could lead to more donations in the future.
One time donation might lead to a subscription
Participants felt like a one time donation is a chance to know the organization and the cause and might lead to a subscription once they know more about the work and build more trust in them.
A VR experience is not very popular with participants
Because of the cost & limited access to VR equipment, participants said they would not be interested in a VR nature experience and would prefer an in-person visit
The subscription model divided participants
50% of the participants thought that a subscription model could work for them in the future, while the other half thought it’s a big commitment, but both thought there is a possibility to change from a one time donation to a subscription if they get inspired.


Meet Liz

Liz's Persona was inspired by the 1:1 user interviews I conducted.

Interviewing users on a personal level helped me get as much insight and real data as possible, which aided me to make sure I always have a point of reference to go back to and base my research and potentially a solution on Liz's wants and needs

Meet Andrew

The different research methods contributed to my research by giving me findings and learnings from different environments and helped shape my understanding of what would the Personas look like for this project.

Andrew's Persona was formed from the insights I got by conducting some Guerilla research interviews and different responses from an online survey.

Survey Stats

Below are some of the stats gathered from the survey

How Might We? Mobilise People to Act?

How might we?

Communicate A legitimate Need
People are moved to action when they know your organization’s mission meets a critical need for the people or cause you serve.
Non-profit organization WATER, used a simple yet effective message, displaying dirty water next to clean water in a NYC park for everyone to see. People they’re mission served had dirty, diseased water, and they wanted to provide clean water.
Tangible Solutions
The solution should empower the people we serve, and sustainably meet a legitimate need.
We have to communicate how does our mission affect local communities, farmers, and any parties involved.
Powerful Storytelling
Creativity & visualization can bring understanding & simplicity to complicated problems, and this moves people to action.
A compelling story makes people feel they can become a part of it, and tell a story of their own. Let them tell your story.
Instead of a conclusion like in traditional stories, we should have a call to action.

How might we?

A Clear Call To Action
We need to tell people what it is we want them to do and ask them directly and with a clear message
The call to action often gets lost behind the stories, explanations and information about the mission
People want to know the cause is genuine and that they are part of something real
People will mobilize around a cause and make sure it has the resources needed, as long as there is 100% transparency and the impact of their efforts is visible.
Humans are tribal and they always want to belong
Building a community around the cause can increase long term support, acquisition and retention of donors
Having a network of people passionate about the cause helps it get greater reach.


It’s hard influencing people when it comes from those they can’t relate to.
Having knowledge of the experiences of those who came before, can fast track the decision making process of a user.
It would be beneficial to have current user testimonials to provide assurance to new users of the legitimacy and great work Wilderlands is achieving.
Flexible payments
Giving a user the choice to pay as much or as little as they want or can afford can reduce or remove the cost barrier.
The above can be a first step towards becoming a regular user and lead to more donations.
Large payments and will donations, can be a way for people to leave their legacy to something they believe in.
Having levels to the donations with a set goal can give users a purpose and satisfaction at the end of the process, as well as motivate them to comeback to it.
If a user can see a progress map of their involvement, that can motivate them to do more and support more. A road map of where you started and how much have you achieved can be a great way to encourage and praise those who are helping make an impact.
Badges, Certificates, or levels can act as rewards and validation for the commitment a user is giving to the cause.
Having a hub for the community to interact, learn & share their journeys, can enhance their experience and create a sense of community.
This could also serve as a library of knowledge for those interested in learning more about the topic of biodiversity and how is Wilderlands implementing solutions and protecting the land.
Empowering users with knowledge to help them tell stories and giving them a voice through the platform, might increase the their loyalty to the cause.


Interesting concept

Research showed, the BDU concept to be very popular with people that heard of it for the first time and most people thought it has great potential to simplify environmental action.

A two way interaction channel might come with feedback that can inform future decisions and roadmaps.

People want to contribute to the environment but need to make sure the organization is transparent and has a genuine goal.

Building a community around the cause can increase the chance of success and adoption as well as retention.

Flexible donation amounts could lower or even remove the cost barrier for new users, as well as being an entry to a possible subscription plan.

Client's Feedback

From the ideas and recommendations presented to the client, the following were of most interest:

"Leaving a legacy as you describe it, does sounds like a good idea. I have heard of this concept before and I can see it as a potential feature",

"A two way communication channel instead of just stories from our side, could be beneficial to allow back and forth conversations with our users",

and more...

Tools I used

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