CITIZEN SCIENCE MODEL AT WORK: SUCCESS STORIES OF BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION IN INDIA
Date and Time
10 October 2012 18:15 - 19:45
Time and again, ‘citizen scientists’ – members of the public who voluntarily help scientific studies have made a real difference to research, for example by meticulously collecting data. With a planned project, and a strong leader who can ensure that volunteers are productive, citizen science can work. Volunteers cannot only help to gather data that otherwise would not be obtainable, but also help in data analysis. In biodiversity-rich developing countries such as India - custodian of some of the world’s key ecosystems, habitats and species – citizen science promises to bring a fresh perspective to strengthen the environment conservation efforts. Citizen science has the potential to bring youth and science together at the field level and empower them with knowledge, understanding and conviction to build conservation movements at the local level. India is known for its rich traditions and local knowledge practices. In this rapidly changing world such knowledge systems need to be integrated with scientific understanding to tackle new environment challenges. Creating and developing an effective citizen science model that fosters partnership between people, science and scientists will be a significant step towards this end. The value of these volunteers extends beyond data collection. Earthwatch scientists find that they generate enthusiasm and offer a fresh perspective on research projects. All work in small groups, overseen by scientific experts, and make a valuable contribution to the collection of data. Without such dedication, much long-term research and the results it generates would be impossible. For many volunteers, joining a research project can be a life-changing experience, a wake-up call to the environmental challenges facing the planet. The knowledge, inspiration and insight they take back to their own communities could ripple through the lives and attitudes of those around them for years to come. Earthwatch projects bring together institutions and individuals to understand and inform critical environmental issues by combining world-class scientific field research with experimental learning programmes that inspire the leadership change. We believe that the future decisions regarding the environment must be based on objective science. We also believe that by involving a diverse range of people in scientific research and education, they gain the knowledge, skills and motivation needed to take responsibility for the environment. The opportunity of working with volunteers has been an enriching experience.