Catchment News

Citizen Science: how you can help monitor and understand your local environment

The EPA is working on citizen science in partnership with the National Biodiversity Data Centre, An Taisce and others. Citizens have been participating in and contributing to scientific research for years. The widespread use of smartphones means that scientific data can now be very easily shared and mapped. We need your help monitoring Dragonflies and Damselflies and recording what your see on the coastline near you when you Explore Your Shore.

Citizen Science is research carried out by members of the public who volunteer to collect scientific data. This research often focuses on monitoring biodiversity, invasive species and climate.

Although citizen science is a relatively new term, citizens have been participating in and contributing to scientific research for many years. The widespread use of smartphones means that scientific data can now be very easily shared and mapped, resulting in a rapid increase in the number and type of citizen science research projects. A number of organisations and projects have been established to help the coordination and communication of citizen science across Europe.

Carrying out citizen science offers many benefits for both citizens and scientists. Citizens working together can collect much more scientific data than scientists working alone. Participating in citizen science can increase public engagement with and understanding of important environmental issues. Citizen science can encourage people of all ages to get out into nature and can contribute to an increased sense of community.

The EPA is now funding several ongoing citizen science projects, with topics including water, air, radiation and biodiversity. These are run in partnership with other organisations, and include:

The GLOBE Program

The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Programme is an international science and education programme that provides school students with the opportunity to participate in data collection and to contribute meaningfully to our understanding of the earth system and global environment.

GLOBE was re-launched in Ireland in 2017 and this two-year pilot programme is managed by An Taisce in partnership with the EPA. Participating schools learn about air quality and the weather by making scientific measurements and using their data to carry out research.

Learn more:

www.globe.gov/web/ireland/home

EPA/European Environment Agency Air Quality Project

Beginning in 2019, a joint European citizen science project will be carried out between many of the European EPA’s and the European Environment Agency (EEA). This project will focus on the measurement of nitrogen dioxide concentrations in the air resulting from car use. More information will be available on the EPA website as this project develops.

Learn more:

You can learn more about other national citizen science initiatives
and EPA supported initiatives at www.epacitizenscience.ie

Dragonfly Ireland 2019 – 2024 citizen science survey seeking volunteers

Dragonflies and damselflies are beautiful creatures. Their presence near freshwater can provide a useful indicator of water quality. Dave Wall, Citizen Science Officer with the National Biodiversity Data Centre, has a story on catchments.ie telling us how your help is needed to monitor and map these creatures between now and 2024.

Explore your shore: volunteer to explore Irish coastal biodiversity

Dave Wall from the National Biodiversity Data Centre also has a story on catchments.ie telling us how you can help map our marine biodiversity with the newly launched Explore Your Shore, and how this EPA-funded project is partnering with other organisations around Ireland’s coasts.

Anglers in border region scale up lake monitoring

The Local Authority Waters Programme is helping anglers in the border region monitor their lakes using innovative citizen science techniques. Three Community Water Officers tell us how the project is progressing in a story on catchments.ie

The citizen science app for anglers form the border region

Who is involved?

Quite simply, everyone in Ireland has a role to play. This can be from something as simple as making sure you don’t pollute your local stream, or a local community working together to establish a Rivers Trust to enhance the rivers and lakes in their area, to a Government Department or Agency helping a Minister implement a new policy to help protect and enhance all our water bodies.

This website has been developed and is maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency, and is a collaboration between the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Local Authority Waters Programme.

LAWCO

Local Authority Waters Programme

The Local Authority Waters Programme coordinates the efforts of local authorities and other public bodies in the implementation of the River Basin Management Plan, and supports local community and stakeholder involvement in managing our natural waters, for everyone’s benefit.

EPA

Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA is responsible for coordinating the monitoring, assessment and reporting on the status of our 4,829 water bodies, looking at trends and changes, determining which waterbodies are at risk and what could be causing this, and drafting environmental objectives and measures for each.

DECLG

Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government

The Department is responsible for making sure that the right policies, regulations and resources are in place to implement the Water Framework Directive, and developing a River Basin Management Plan and Programme of Measures that will be implemented after public consultation and sign off by the Minister.