Have you ever taken part in a wildlife or plant survey? If so, how did the taking part make you feel? Empowered? Enriched? Happy?
Over the past ten years there’s has been a huge surge in surveys which you, as a member of the public, can take part in. You may sometimes hear it called Citizen Sciences – basically, utlising thousands (if not millions!) of people across the country to take part in a particular count, walk or watch looking for specific animals or plants. Probably one of the longest running and well known is the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch which started back in the 1980s and takes place at the end of January every year counting birds in our gardens.
Taking part in such a survey means we can all make a difference and contribute to informing science about changes in numbers of creatures, revealing the existence of something new or perhaps the disappearance of a species which needs urgent attention. Either way, recruiting so many people means researchers can work with a huge sample size which means we can be more sure about the overall results (any inaccuracies or biases of a survey can usually be balanced in some way using statistics).
What does this mean for you and me? Well, research shows we get a feeling of wellbeing and happiness by engaging with nature. And by doing our little bit and making a difference we feel empowered. We may feel rather powerless or useless after hearing or seeing a sad nature story, not quite knowing what we can do to help. Being able to take part in a survey, whether its looking for bats, beetles or birds means we can DO something to help – and enjoy ourselves along the way.
Here’s just some of the surveys you can take part in:
- RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch
- BTO Gardenwatch
- BTO Birdtrack
- PlantLife Wild About Plants
- Mammal Society Mammals on Roads
- ARG UK Records Pool
- BugLife Oil Beetle Survey
- Butterfly Conservation Big Butterfly Count
- Garden BioBlitz
- Pond Conservation The Big Pond Dip
- Or get a taster of all sorts at your local BioBlitz event
So get out there and get involved to contribute to ongoing conservation research across the UK.