With the recent State of Nature report highlighting that over 50% of British species studied have declined in recent decades we need to look at how we can monitor and protect our important habitat and species. Citizen science offers fantastic opportunities for projects to get people involved with their natural environment and help to contribute to national surveys and recording of species. Citizen science projects gather data relating to the habitats and wildlife in particular areas, sometimes local or nationally, to engage people with nature, record and monitor important species and habitats to help inform natural heritage action plans for nationally threatened wildlife and habitats.
However there are wider benefits within HLF project especially when it comes to helping achieve our programme outcomes. These projects will help heritage to be better recorded but they can make huge difference for people and communities. These projects provide opportunities for people to volunteer time, develop new skills and learn about natural heritage. Projects help communities to get involved in their local natural heritage in lots of different ways, whether that is hedgehog spotting, surveying rare plants or learning new skills in natural history and nature conservation and help people to feel that they are contributing to something bigger than themselves.
We’ve funded some great local citizen science projects but it would be interesting to hear how citizen science has been built in to other projects and how it has helped to engage local people. What has been your experience of citizen science? Is there anything that you would do differently? Did you find any wider benefits from involving volunteers in your nature projects?