International Congress for Conservation Biology
The theme of this year’s congress, “Engaging Society in Conservation,” will explore both the science of conservation and how all aspects of society can be engaged in conservation. Engaging individuals in environmental research and education is an area that Earthwatch has pioneered for 40 years and that has allowed Earthwatch to fund long-term scientific field research projects.
Over the past five years, 2,200 HSBC employees or Climate Champions have been working as citizen scientists alongside researchers at Earthwatch’s five Regional Climate Centers to quantify how human disturbances such as logging and climate change interact to affect forest diversity as well as carbon capture and storage. Forest carbon is the least well understood part of the carbon cycle.
Nathalie Butt, a researcher at Earthwatch’s Europe Regional Climate Center, will present a study that investigates the accuracy (or “range of uncertainty”) of volunteers’ tree measurements and how the quality of measurements can affect the carbon stock estimates. The study is based on the Climate Champion program, set up by Earthwatch under the HSBC Climate Partnership.
The field research program at the Europe Regional Climate Center, located in Wytham Woods, has generated a large amount of measurement data collected by HSBC Climate Champions. Research activities include measuring tree growth, collecting soil samples and ground leaf litter, and data transcription and analysis.
Data validation - establishing the accuracy or bias in volunteer measurements - is a crucial part of utilizing citizen science data, especially as there is growing involvement of citizen science in, for example, large-scale or long-term ecological monitoring projects. Citizen science can play a valuable part in the type of ecological monitoring that is usually costly, time-consuming, and labor intensive.