Somewhere…. over the rainbow…. My PhD has entered the final 6 or so months and I’m busy writing and getting research results to whom it may help better inform: regional councils, DOC, NGOs, and scientists working with community groups. The results will also help community groups themselves see where they fit into the bigger picture of community-led biodiversity conservation in New Zealand.
One of the main drivers for focusing on landcare, bushcare, streamcare… friends of… and the multitude of environmental trusts throughout NZ, has been to gain a more in depth understanding of who they are and what they do within their restoration projects. The increasing emphasis on these groups to contribute more as agencies lose funding, highlights the need for reassessing the type of support these groups may need, and the way in which it is delivered.
In the 2 ½ years since I began this research project, citizen science (aka crowd sourcing, participatory science, community science…) is firmly on the national agenda – at least in writing. Although there are numerous citizen science-type projects underway, as a nation, we’re still in the early stages of realising the potential of community generated data. Overseas shows wide use for education and outreach, environmental decision-making as well as to help shape policy. My research on groups’ monitoring activities invariably overlaps with citizen science: many group members (citizen scientists!) are collecting environmental data, which for now, is mostly used within their own projects to guide restoration management as well as to support applications for funding. How else might their data be used in the future?
To balance the production of journal articles/book chapters I’m required to produce for my PhD, (and to practice the art of communicating like an ordinary human being) I’ve also delivered various research-centred presentations to community groups and their project partners. Next up, will be an introduction to citizen science for a one-day symposium organised by the Whau River Catchment Trust. Later this year, I’ve organised a mini symposium on citizen science at the NZ Ecological Society conference along with Colin Meurk (NatureWatchNZ), Peter Handford (Community pest trapping website) and Heidi Kikillus (Cat Tracker). A workshop will follow the symposium to allow more in depth discussion on topics such as principles of citizen science programme design; data use; data ownership and quality.
Up and coming publications
Action on the ground: A review of community environmental groups’ restoration objectives, activities and partnerships in New Zealand.
Peters, M.A., Hamilton, D. and Eames, C. NZ Journal of Ecology: In press.
The current state of community-based environmental monitoring in New Zealand.
Peters, M.A., Hamilton, D., Eames, C., Innes J. and Mason, N. This article will shortly be submitted to the NZ Journal of Ecology and likewise be accessible through journal’s website.
The use and value of citizen science data in New Zealand.
Peters, M.A., Eames, C and Hamilton, D. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand: In press. Copies will be available through this blog.
Applying citizen science to freshwater ecosystem restoration.
Peters, M.A., Hamilton, D. Hoyer, MV, Weathers, K. and Eames, C. Book chapter in Freshwater Restoration: A New Zealand Perspective (eds. David Hamilton, Kevin Collier, Clive Howard-Williams and John Quinn): In review. This book will be published later this year (Springer) and copies of the citizen science chapter will be made available through this blog.