Citizen Science

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Citizen Science

Citizen Science is the active involvement of the public in scientific research and includes a broad range of activities, from the collection and analysis of data such as water samples and photographs of wildlife, to more physical activities like carrying out work to restore sections of rivers.

Engaging with interested volunteers can be a powerful tool and have wide ranging impacts, not only on local communities, but also the environment and science itself. For citizen volunteers it can lead to a feeling of ownership and pride for their local area, and the development of a deeper understanding of the process of scientific investigation and how it helps to inform management decisions. The environmental benefits of citizen science include an increased awareness of environmental issues among volunteers that may encourage them to change their behaviour and champion environmentalism within their social networks. For researchers, scientists and environmental managers citizen science represents a cost-effective means of carrying out work, be it data collection, or physical labour, that can help increase the scope and ambition of projects. These are just some of the benefits of citizen science!

How does it link to river restoration?

Increased urbanisation and climate change mean that our rivers are under increasing pressure, and we face difficult decisions regarding how to best manage them, especially over the longer-term. Citizen science can help us to address these challenges by:

  1. Gathering scientific data (through monitoring activities) to ascertain the current state of river systems and allow us to make informed management decisions.
  2. Providing local knowledge regarding rivers that will improve the quality and resilience of restoration projects to local conditions.
  3. Increasing the scope and ambition of river restoration projects; citizen science is a cost-effective way to carry out work.
  4. Reconnecting local communities with nature and engendering a feeling of stewardship towards rivers.
How is RRC involved in Citizen Science?

RRC is involved in the Measuring the Impact of Citizen Science project (MICS), a Horizon2020 funded project that is developing tools and metrics to evaluate the impact of citizen science activities. These metrics are being tested in four case-study sites across Europe – UK, Italy, Hungary and Romania – to ensure the metrics developed by MICS can account for the differing needs, contexts, and approaches to environment management adopted by different countries.

These tools and metrics will be integrated within an online platform which will allow projects managers to assess the impacts of the projects they coordinate.

RRC have developed guidance factsheets and videos for communities to get started in river restoration. Check it out here.

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