Working in the Environment?
Citizen science has become an increasingly popular approach to undertake science and conduct monitoring. It provides an excellent way to engage with the public whose participation allows for cost-efficient collection of data especially with the recent advances in communication technologies.
Amongst the notable examples are WeSenseIt which allows citizens to play an integral role in water governance by establishing a citizens’ water observatory using innovative data collection mechanisms, latest communications technologies and by empowering them to play a more active role in decision-making process.
If you are setting up a project and want to involve citizen scientist volunteers, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology Best Practice guide takes you through the steps. The project was funded by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
The Forestry Commission have produced excellent guidance for community projects and activities on the National Forest Estate. The guide is for groups of people in the same local area, or groups of people with a common interest, who want to run activities, use or get involved in managing land or buildings on the estate.
Similarly, Zero Waste Scotland have produced a great paper on community engagement for litter prevention.
This research project led by TCV looked to learn from successful community based Citizen Science initiatives in the United States and Canada in order to help inform the development of new community Citizen Science projects in the UK.
There are also disadvantages to a citizen science approach. Importantly, citizen science it is not free; it requires resources to make it successful, and investment in recruiting, retaining and motivating volunteers. This report provides a decision framework that can be used to guide whether and when to use a citizen science approach for environmental monitoring.