Minister Supports NZ Landcare Trust Citizen Science Project

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith gave his support for NZ Landcare Trust’s new Citizen Science based initiative at the Project Steering Group’s inaugural meeting. The Minister confirmed the Government will provide a grant of over $130,000 from the Community Environment Fund towards the costs of the project, which aims to increase citizen participation in scientific research and restoration.

The Chair of NZ Landcare Trust’s Board of Trustees Richard Thompson greeted the Minister and set the scene, identifying how NZ Landcare Trust works on a range of catchment management and environmental restoration type projects where measuring and monitoring plays a key role. With the right support, many community groups are very capable of undertaking monitoring and then using the results to determine the best approach to further restoration work.

The Minister confirmed the Government is backing Citizen Science and the role it can play in helping resolve difficult environmental problems like our water quality and species loss.

He said:

“Communities become more focused on these challenges when they are involved rather than being told from afar by a scientist or an official that there is a problem. Web-based technologies also make it easier to ensure data collection such as bird counts or water testing is done according to sound scientific methodology and to collate the data.”

 And:

“Citizen Science helps groups to manage their local environments to the highest level, and supports scientists to better understand the cultural side of ecosystem restoration. The growth of the Citizen Science movement in New Zealand is part of a welcome international trend.

“The Government’s contribution towards this project will help fund a national inventory of monitoring tools and training, user-friendly Citizen Science resources, regional stakeholder working groups in Auckland, Palmerston North, Nelson and Christchurch and a national symposium to share resources and strategies over the next three years.”

NZ Landcare Trust has drawn together a range of experts to form the initial Project Steering Group including representatives from NIWA, NZ Rivers Trust, Iwi/Hapu, Cawthron Institute, Federated Farmers, and Landcare Research. It is likely that other organisations will also get involved as the project moves forward.

A dedicated webpage is currently under development at  www.landcare.org.nz/CitizenScience.

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