Citizen Science helps conservation in Africa

Citizen science is an inclusive way of connecting people with nature, monitoring biodiversity and producing data to guide conservation actions.  The “Citizen Science for Conservation in Africa” webinar was a celebration of projects in Africa and was the grand finale of a training programme called CISCA led by the Tropical Biology Association.   Nine African citizen science managers shared the results of their inspiring citizen science projects to an audience of over 100 people from all over the world.

We can all be citizen scientists

“ Citizen science allows us to reach areas that otherwise would be difficult to reach by scientists with limited resources”

Judith Mirembe.

Judith is working with local communities to monitor and conserve the shoebill – one of Uganda’s iconic and threatened water birds.

Watch a video to find out more about Judith’s work.

Using citizen science data for monitoring species and habitats

In Cameroon, Cedrick Fogwan told us “fishers interact daily with the marine wildlife, so they are in the right place to provide the data that we need. Thanks to their involvement, fishers who used to poach turtles have become ambassadors for conservation”.

“Citizen science is a great tool for revealing the diversity of fungi in Kenya”  Mary Muchane.

Edward Ouko’s citizen science project (RCMRD in Kenya) is mapping invasive plant species to find out their impact on native biodiversity.

“We are predicting future occurrences of two major invasive plant species in Kenya”. Edward Ouko

Talatu Tende manages the Nigerian Bird Atlas and she showed us the invaluable inputs of citizen scientists for understanding the distribution of the Nigeria’s bird species.  The success of the Nigerian Bird Atlas has had a huge influence in Africa:

“Now, we are encouraging Bird Atlas projects in other African countries”.

said Talatu Tende

Using citizen science to influence policy

Dominic Kimani, from Kenya’s Kipeto Energy, is using maps from citizen science data to guide infrastructure developments and ensure they do not impact critical areas for plants and wildlife.

Watch a video about  about Dominic’s project.

“Thanks to the data collected by citizen scientists, four species of cetaceans are now fully protected by Cameroon law. The data is also being used to set up a national law for sharks and rays, which is missing in my country”. Cedrick Fogwan

A recurring theme from the webinar speakers was the importance of the training they received from  CISCA.  CISCA – Citizen Science for Conservation in Africa – is an innovative training programme that was launched in 2018 by the Tropical Biology Association in partnership with British Trust for Ornithology, the Zoology Museum at the University of Cambridge, National Museums of Kenya, and the Kenya Bird Map Project, and funded by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative Collaborative Fund.

CISCA trained 26 African citizen science leaders from 9 countries. Now we are aiming to scale up this programme and train many more managers, building expertise in designing robust and effective projects and ensuring citizen science has a greater impact on conservation in Africa.

The presentations from the webinar “Citizen Science for Conservation in Africa” are available here. It is worth watching them!

“Inspiring projects and people. Building resources and capacity through TBA and Citizen Science – wonderful to see innovative ways of engaging people in a variety of topics.”

Helen Roy, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UK).