Challenges for biodiversity monitoring using citizen science in transitioning social-ecological systems

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Biodiversity monitoring requires sound data collection over large temporal and spatial scales in order to inform policy and conservation management. Citizen science programmes, if designed appropriately, can make valuable contributions to data collection and analyses. Moreover, citizen science has potential for both environmental education and civic participation. Recommendations on effective citizen science are available in the literature, but most existing work has come from relatively rich, industrialized countries. By contrast, there is very little knowledge on citizen science projects in transitioning economic, social and cultural settings. This paper seeks to adjust this deficit by contributing insights from our attempt to initiate a new monitoring scheme in Romania. We draw on our experience of conducting workshops, training events and camps to strengthen citizen engagement in a butterfly monitoring scheme, and discussions with many stakeholders engaged in other monitoring programmes inside and outside of Europe. We highlight four general themes that are worth considering when initiating new citizen science projects in socio-economically challenging settings: (i) engaging citizens requires a combination of formal and informal support; (ii) a culture of volunteering requires education as well as building capacity and confidence; (iii) citizen science needs active integration of both national experts and local stakeholders; and (iv) successful monitoring schemes require effective leadership. We conclude that particular attention should be paid to the cultural legacies of the target area.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal for Nature Conservation
Pages (from-to)45-48
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 01.07.2015

    Research areas

  • Awareness raising, Butterfly monitoring, Capacity building, Civil Society, Romania, Volunteers
  • Sustainability Science