Life is taking me on quite the busy journey at the moment. Raising three kids and work keeps me all too busy. I have however had this topic on my mind for quite some time and finally have decided to sit down and write. Every day I am reading a terrible statistic and report about the state of our world. Today’s one was about the crazy rate of deforestation. Apparently there is one football field worth of forest lost every second. With all the football watching going on right now, it should be an easy one to visualise. So let’s repeat that one – slowly. One football field of forest lost. Every second.
As with many reports on the environment, it is very easy to feel hopeless and overwhelmed. While action to reverse is needed urgently, we need to also look at what is possible in our neck of the woods – excuse the pun. One of the areas I feel strongly about, is the need to re-connect with nature. There are many benefits to this, from improved mental health and wellbeing to community connections to re-learning lost skills. It goes without saying that this will lead to improved biodiversity outcomes.
One of the ways to re-connect with nature is through Citizen Science. This essentially means that anyone can be a scientist and that we can all work to help document flora and fauna in our local area. This helps scientists monitor and track information, and gets the community out and about looking closely at what is in their neighbourhoods.
This participatory approach to science is a great way to get people involved in their local community and a wonderful introduction to science for children.
Many many years ago, I worked on a project called the Willoughby Wildlife Watch project which in essence was a citizen science program. It asked residents to report wildlife that they saw. This was then included in a state-wide Atlas, thereby creating a good baseline and allowing monitoring of wildlife, particularly in urban areas.
Over the years, amateur scientists have become involved in science. In fact amateur astronomers have made many discoveries including finding a scar on Jupiter and even finding Uranus (William Herschel, 1781). It’s estimated that these volunteer scientists provide in-kind contributions valued at about $2.5 billion a year! (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizen_science).
There are different ways that you can get involved. You can contact your local Council to see if they have any programs available where you can participate, or you can check out some other organisations like:
While winter might be time where we all want to get indoors – it might also be a really interesting time to be out there checking out plants and animals in your area.