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Land 2016, 5(4), 37; doi:10.3390/land5040037

The Community-Conservation Conundrum: Is Citizen Science the Answer?

1
Environmental and Animal Sciences, Unitec Institute of Technology, Private Bag 92025, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
2
Institute for Applied Ecology New Zealand, Auckland University of Technology, Private Bag 92006, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
3
New Zealand Department of Conservation, Private Bag 68908, Auckland 1145, New Zealand
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Jeffrey Sayer and Chris Margules
Received: 8 August 2016 / Revised: 21 October 2016 / Accepted: 25 October 2016 / Published: 31 October 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity in Locally Managed Lands)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1172 KB, uploaded 31 October 2016]   |  

Abstract

Public participation theory assumes that empowering communities leads to enduring support for new initiatives. The New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy, approved in 2000, embraces this assumption and includes goals for community involvement in resolving threats to native flora and fauna. Over the last 20 years, community-based ecological restoration groups have proliferated, with between 600 and 4000 identified. Many of these groups control invasive mammals, and often include protection of native species and species reintroductions as goals. Such activities involve the groups in “wicked” problems with uncertain biological and social outcomes, plus technical challenges for implementing and measuring results. The solution might be to develop a citizen science approach, although this requires institutional support. We conducted a web-based audit of 50 community groups participating in ecological restoration projects in northern New Zealand. We found great variation in the quality of information provided by the groups, with none identifying strategic milestones and progress towards them. We concluded that, at best, many group members are accidental scientists rather than citizen scientists. Furthermore, the way community efforts are reflected in biodiversity responses is often unclear. The situation may be improved with a new approach to data gathering, training, and analyses. View Full-Text
Keywords: ecological restoration; citizen science; monitoring; conservation volunteering; New Zealand; wicked problems ecological restoration; citizen science; monitoring; conservation volunteering; New Zealand; wicked problems
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Galbraith, M.; Bollard-Breen, B.; Towns, D.R. The Community-Conservation Conundrum: Is Citizen Science the Answer? Land 2016, 5, 37.

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