Citizen science for conservation in Africa (CISCA): April 2019 blog entry

10th April 2019

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)’).

This project will help translate citizen science species monitoring into conservation action in Africa. There is huge potential for citizen science to help conservation managers engage people to collect the valuable data they need for managing their important habitats and species. Our project will give these managers the skills they need to analyse their citizen science data and present their results, so they can inform conservation practice and policy.

The first six months of the project focused on preparations for the workshop which was held in April 2019. We received a substantial demand; over 200 passionate African citizen science managers from 18 African countries applied to attend both workshops. The 23 we selected for the first workshop are working on diverse citizen science projects – from mammals to birds, plants to reptiles, dragonflies to seahorses. Such a diverse forum provides them with a unique opportunity to share experiences and ideas on how they can use and amplify their work for greater impact in conservation. The participants come from non-governmental organisations, universities, research and conservation institutions, and government research departments in nine African countries. A pre-workshop questionnaire was sent out to assess participants’ current levels of knowledge and training expectations.

The workshop was hosted by the National Museums of Kenya and has generated a lot of excitement among the members of the Kenyan Bird Map Committee who are taking part.
The second workshop was also held in Kenya, in October 2019. Most participants attended both workshops, which were participatory and included tutorials, group discussions, practical exercises, and case studies. At the end of the second workshop participants developed communication pieces from their citizen science projects – including manuscript outlines – and received feedback and peer to peer reviews.

The workshops and the project are a truly collaborative approach and it is the first time that all the partners have worked together. We are bringing together the expertise of TBA, BTO and Cambridge Zoology Museum from the UK with the National Museums of Kenya and the Kenya Bird Map committee in Kenya. All organisations are excited to be working together and the resulting programme really could not have come about if any of us were working alone.

Both workshops have now taken place and all participants have reported they are applying what they learnt in their work.

For more information on the CCI Collaborative Fund project, please visit the project page.