What is citizen science?
Citizen science involves public participation and collaboration in scientific research with the aim to increase scientific knowledge (Australian Citizen Science Association definition)..
Citizen science encompasses a range of activities, ideas and goals. Environmental citizen science projects may be driven by grassroots efforts to understand the natural environment, scientific research needs, a desire to build community engagement, finding a solution to a particular environmental challenge and many more. At the core of most programs is the goal for volunteers to partner with scientists to systematically collect information that helps to answer real-world questions.
Why is citizen science valuable?
Citizen science generates a range of benefits, for science, individuals, communities and the Reef.
Engaging the general public in data collection can enhance the scope of scientific research - getting volunteers involved in research allows data to be collected more frequently, or over larger areas.
But citizen science is not just useful for scientists - citizen science projects contribute to diverse education initiatives, sharing the passion for science and our unique reef environments. Citizen science also provides a great way for communities to work together to protect reefs. By collecting data and sharing this with decision makers, communities can advocate for improving or maintaining management of their local environment.
FILLING DATA GAPS
Citizen science projects can help to fill spatial and temporal data gaps, and help to process large amounts of data.
Not only do they generate data about our reefs, but citizen science programs can also positively influence stewardship. A study undertaken around ReefBlitz citizen science events (Dean et al 2018) found that more than half of people attending a reef citizen science event were likely to adopt a new behaviour to help reefs.
ENGAGING & EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES
Citizen science provides new ways to engage and empower communities in contributing to science, monitoring and natural resource management.
Citizen science provides a platform for collaboration and discussion.
Citizen science presents opportunities to bring people together to grow social links