Citizen science is gaining momentum, recognition and interest as a crucial element of reef science and management. A number of recent projects and studies demonstrate this trend.
Citizen science programs are one strategy to improve cost-effectiveness of monitoring frameworks
Existing citizen science manuals and training materials could form a starting point for expert evaluation to develop protocols for the Integrated Monitoring Program
The plan details the outcomes, objectives, targets and actions to deliver on its vision of a Reef of Outstanding Universal Value. Targets are specified for 2020 and represent stepping-stones to the achievement of objectives in 2035 and outcomes by 2050.
The Plan stresses the need to foster stewardship and encourage community participation in the protection, preservation and restoration of the Great Barrier Reef. Citizen science is specifically mentioned.
Citizen science meets 2020 actions for improving awareness, including: Strengthening programs to understand and promote the Reef’s values and threats, as well as opportunities to contribute or play a role in protecting and managing the Reef (CBA11) and improving the involvement and support of local communities in monitoring, protecting, managing and sustainably using the Reef (CBA12)
Principles: “Collaboration between the research, modelling, and monitoring community, relevant industries and community based citizen science programs together with all levels of government is essential.”
Program Design: Design options will be developed to address gaps and improve alignment citizen science monitoring—volunteer based monitoring and observations of condition of habitats and presence of species. Examples include CoralWatch and Seagrass-Watch.
This report summarises the results of a desktop study that identified a series of critical steps towards the development of a cost-effective integrated monitoring and reporting program for the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan.
The report includes an initial assessment of citizen science programs, which made up 8 out of 80 monitoring programs in the GBRWHA associated with the marine environment.
The majority of existing 80 monitoring programs either have been established for independent purposes (e.g. university research, education/awareness raising/stewardship), operate at small geographic or temporal scales, are not government funded, or are conducted to ensure compliance with development conditions. More programs with measurable capability to detect and measure change are required for important habitats (e.g. coral reefs and seagrasses), species of conservation concern (megafauna) and important environmental drivers, particularly water quality.
Citizen science can be a powerful demonstration of what can be achieved when different stakeholders work together to address critical issues.
Working collaboratively to discover where information gaps exist, and better understand the expertise, experiences and values of each group, would help to focus citizen science projects to where they are most needed and valued.
The results from an online survey of 1145 marine users indicates ‘considerable potential for growth in volunteer recruitment, which can contribute constructively to scientific and public knowledge of the marine environment.’
The Australian Citizen Science Association adapted the European Citizen Science Association’s 10 Principles of Citizen Science to foster best-practice approaches.