Citizen Science for Conservation: February 2021 blog entry
17th February 2021
The following blog is written by Rosie Trevelyan, Director, Tropical Biology Association (project lead for the CCI Collaborative Fund project ‘Citizen science for conservation in Africa (CISCA)’).
The Citizen Science for Conservation project (CISCA) collaboration has developed the capacity of 26 African conservation citizen science leaders. CISCA gave them the skills to engage citizen scientists, design robust protocols, generate useful data and use the results to inform conservation strategies and policy. We are now looking to scale up the work beyond Africa.
“I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for many years and I couldn’t believe that I was one of the select few to attend. At Kenya Marine and Fisheries, we have a lot of data but we have not been able to analyse it or understand the distribution of our species. Now I have everything I need.” Thomas Kalama Mkare, Kenya Marine & Fisheries Research Institute
This was a new – north-south – collaboration between Tropical Biology Association; British Trust for Ornithology; Kenya Bird Map Committee; Museum of Zoology, University of Cambridge and National Museums of Kenya. We ran two training workshops for aspiring citizen science leaders from Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda and host country Kenya. The workshops used case studies, practicals and interactive talks to provide training that is relevant to the participants’ projects and that filled specific skills gaps they told us about beforehand. The main themes of the training were
- How to be citizen science leaders and engage your community
- Methods for analysing atlas data and producing policy relevant outputs
- Communication skills for different audiences and advocacy
“We are now getting really useful data [to] help us pin point where we need to do forest restoration”. Thuita Thenya, University of Nairobi, Kenya
The project generated a dynamic network that is still sharing ideas, discussing analytical problems, and communicating success stories. All participants have reported they are applying their new skills in their citizen science work in their home countries, including training others on the skills learnt during this project. The impacts range from influencing policy, producing new maps needed to inform management, publications sharing data on distributions of key species, to designing new citizen science projects with local communities.
“Our fisherman used to poach sea turtles, but since they have been involved in my citizen science project, they have become ambassadors of the conservation of threatened sea turtles.” Cedrick Fogwan Nguedia, African Marine Mammal Conservation Organisation
To find out more about our novel collaboration and its impact, see Citizen Science for Conservation.