The number of nature-based recovery projects is growing rapidly across the UK. These include a range of management approaches from rewilding and habitat restoration to regenerative, agro-ecological farming and land management intended to deliver public goods.
Using citizen science for the collection of biological records has the potential to generate valuable data for monitoring and evaluation. However, many existing citizen science approaches focus on single events resulting in poor-quality data not suitable for long-term planning.
The aim of my research is to explore how citizen science tools and technologies can be utilised to inform long-term landscape-scale nature-based recovery projects. An important output of my project is the development of a citizen science ‘how to’ best practice guide specifically for landscape-scale nature-based recovery projects.
Reliable biological records for decision-makers
Landscape-scale nature-based recovery initiatives require comprehensive, reliable and long-term approaches to monitoring and evaluation in order to produce the high-quality data that conservationists, land managers and advisers need to make informed decisions. This data can be prohibitively expensive to produce but, luckily, there is a potentially large and mostly untapped community of citizen scientist volunteers who could be engaged to help accelerate biodiversity restoration in their local area.
As part of my research, I evaluate a range of tools and technologies in a citizen science setting, including mobile devices, satellite imagery, and remote access trap cameras. I focus on citizen science approaches co-developed and tested with those undertaking the data collection and with the land managers who provide access to the land and are using the data for long-term decision making.
Co-innovation for effective citizen science
The most effective citizen science approaches are those that generate high-quality data, encourage participants to develop a ‘love of place’ and are not demanding of time for land managers. Finding these interventions that work for everyone requires a co-innovation approach with both those undertaking the data collection and the land managers. Co-innovation will ensure that all stakeholders have a strong sense of ownership, contribution, and confidence in the results of the science and the decisions made based upon it.
I am excited to work on this research project as it combines ecological sciences with applied data collection to generate a ‘how to’ guide for best practice.
Long-term, I hope to continue to work in an environment that combines education and research, with a focus on environmental sciences, particularly ecological restoration / rewilding, and biodiversity monitoring.
I am excited to work on the development of a citizen science ‘how to’ best practice guide for landscape-scale nature-based recovery initiatives.