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Approaches and Effectiveness in Community Environmental Monitoring and Conservation

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Studies
Wordcount: 3148 words Published: 18th May 2020

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Community monitoring and citizen science monitoring: Approaches and Effectiveness in environmental monitoring and conservation.




Environmental problems are complicated, changeable and multi-dimensional. To assess the problems monitoring closely and precise decision making is essential. The nature of problems in the changing environment is difficult to understand and it involves right implementation of the monitoring tools (Stringer & Reed, 2007). Monitoring is an effective tool to understand the changing variability in natural environment. Community based monitoring and citizen science monitoring are effective techniques to monitor environmental degradation in a comprehensive manner. Community based monitoring involves a wide range of ecosystem management considering human and nonhuman dimensions. It is a useful technique which incorporates all aspects of project design and decision making choices of management. (Bliss et al., 2001). This approach is used to monitor and ensure environmental sustainability through understanding ecological and social factors from environmental perspectives. The community members take part in this process (Bliss et al., 2001). On the other hand citizen science is the technique which involves citizens in science as researchers (Kruger & Shannon, 2000). It is regarded as community science as well (Carr, 2004). Currently citizen science is not traditionally focused as “scientists using citizens as data collectors,” rather it is considered as “citizens as scientists” (Lakshminarayanan, 2007). The concept of citizen science is being perceived as a vital part of local environmental activities. The effectiveness of citizen scientist collaboration in resolving environmental problems is getting popularity within the scientific community (Chicoine, 1996).

In conservation ecology the importance of community monitoring and citizen science is beyond conventional procedures and this implies a substantial contribution in detecting environmental degradation. 

Community based monitoring: An effective monitoring tool

Community-based approaches are promoted extensively with a view to sharing knowledge and techniques in decision making process for preservation, restoration of the environment. Local communities in collaboration with government and other relevant organizations take part in identifying environmental/ecological problems. Through this process precise and fair decision can be taken in managing environmental degradation as well as more viable implantation plans and strategies can be under taken (Wismer & Mitchell, 2005a).

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Public Participation in environmental monitoring, planning, and decision making, along with other environmental activities is growing rapidly at present time (Chicoine, 1996; Lasker & Weiss, 2003). This trend is can be interrelated with the substantial rise in public environmental consciousness which happened in the latter half of the 20th century (Allen, 2004). Public participation in environmental activities contributes in monitoring and responding to solve environmental issues with collaboration with various communities and stakeholders (Whitelaw, Vaughan, Craig, & Atkinson, 2003). In community based monitoring the environmental/community problems are identified, decisions are made and proper remedial procedures are undertaken. In other circumstances, community groups have started monitoring to collect baseline data, boost up citizen awareness and contribute to local planning. Monitoring is perceived as part of a comprehensive community development or ecosystem management strategy in some communities, of a (Bliss et al., 2001). In community based monitoring participants and stake holders collect data, analyze them, design program and also take part in implementation of the management program which enable them to identify the environmental/ecological problems      more precisely (Danielsen et al., 2009; Danielsen et al., 2014; Kennett, Danielsen, & Silvius, 2015). In Canada community based approaches has been widely accepted to detect and manage to environmental more effectively (Wismer & Mitchell, 2005b). Across the world volunteer environmental monitoring has become extensive (Harvey, 2006) particularly in North America is this is extensively used to monitor especially the lakes and rivers (Griffin, 1999; Savan, Morgan, & Gore, 2003).

Community Based Monitoring and Sustainability 


Citizen participation in management of ecosystem and environment is enhanced by community based monitoring. It also contribute to participatory community development and thus boost up community influence on policy directions. Citizen can participate in environmental planning, decision making and implementing policy through this mechanism. Collection of information may help for organizing data to analyze and understand environmental problems which is useful in planning and decision making (McLaughlin & Hilts, 1999; Stokes, Havas, & Brydges, 1990). Community participation helps in understanding the environmental problems in collaboration with scientific and local knowledge which contribute substantially to solve these problems (Clark & Murdoch, 1997). Community monitoring integrates the technical know-how of basic science with citizen science to resolve ecological/environmental problems much better than other tools of monitoring (Irwin, 2002; Wynne, 1996). It encourages communities to work closely to obtain environmental sustainability.

Citizen Science: Applicability and effectiveness in environmental monitoring

Citizen science uses the techniques of collecting data, verify these by biologists and apply these for monitoring environmental degradation with collaboration of public education. (Bonney, 2007; Cohn, 2008). Analysis of environmental/ecological problems require in depth understanding of large scale data. It allows citizens to gather scientific information and data about various aspects of environment to study in detail (Bhattacharjee, 2005). Citizen science projects may be collaborative, contributory in nature. They are useful for detecting environmental degradation because they take into consideration about the affected communities and analysis the problems precisely to make effective contribution in the remedial process (Janis L. Dickinson et al., 2012). The participants examine the problems of the environment with shared scientific knowledge and can evaluate public understanding regarding the problems (Shirk et al., 2012).


Assist in addressing major conservation challenges


Citizen science can contribute in addressing challenges through scientific knowledge. Volunteers participate in gathering scientific information of the ecosystem, which the conservation scientists, environmental managers and decision makers use. Similarly, public may participate in natural the management activities of environment and in policy making as well. Citizen science monitors observe environment and share information within their communities. They also motivate others to get involved to discuss the issues and take part in decision making and environmental management activities (McKinley et al., 2017).

Contribute in landscape ecology, climate change

Citizen science monitors observe ecological and environmental change with respect to abundance, distribution and presence of organisms (Janis L Dickinson, Zuckerberg, & Bonter, 2010). For analysis of the landscape ecology and climate change data collection is essential. Citizen monitors can provide these data to understand the functional complexities and anomalies of the environment. Citizen science has contributed in detecting of change in shift of many organisms due to climate change (Parmesan & Yohe, 2003; Root et al., 2003). It has also been used to detect changes in the phenology of flowering times of plants (Miller-Rushing & Primack, 2008) and early egg-laying times of migratory birds (Dunn & Winkler, 1999).

Detect and analyze environmental problems

Citizen science is being effectively used in many environmental activities such as finding rare organisms, tracking invasions, detecting boom and bust events, like bird populations irruption (Hochachka, Wells, Rosenberg, Tessaglia-Hymes, & Dhondt, 1999). The discovery of ladybug species has been successful through use of (Losey, Perlman, & Hoebeke, 2007). It has also been used to track the spread of the newly emerged house finch eye disease (Dhondt, Tessaglia, & Slothower, 1998). Citizen science has detected the arrival and distribution of invasive plant species in Texas (Gallo & Waitt, 2011).


Role in conservation and ecological management


Citizen science facilitate the course of ecological understanding to analysis the complex interaction among various factors. It provides ecological information to address the prevailing problems and assist the scientists, ecologists and other stakeholders to manage the problems. It also address the conservation and management problems from more analytical point of view (Janis L Dickinson et al., 2010).




Community monitoring and citizen science monitoring can help the researchers, scientists, ecologists and other relevant stakeholder better identify and study in detail the environmental problems. Both of these tools are useful in monitoring the environment. Community monitoring enable the participants to observe and perceive any changes in the natural environment and take suitable remedial or preventive measures. On the contrary citizen science monitors facilitate the knowledge, experience among local community members for a better understanding of the environmental interactions. It helps in identifying environmental degradation in a more precise way as monitors closely observe the changes happening in the natural environmental setting. For better and comprehensive understanding of the environmental complexities and thereby addressing those issues immediately and effectively, both community monitoring and citizen science are promising options. These tools can make meaningful contribution in environmental protection, natural resource management and conservation biology.


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