Training budding Citizen Scientists



Posted on 25 January 2013  | 
Sarada Jha is 25 years old and comes from Manpur Tapara-2, Bardia; she is training to become a Citizen Scientist. Citizen Scientists are youths and others from local communities who are involved in scientific activities such as the systematic collection, analysis and dissemination of data on forests, wildlife, water or climate. Sarada recently participated in a seven-day forest inventory training organized by the Hariyo Ban Program, WWF Nepal. "I have always been active in protecting forests and my family is very supportive. So, when the opportunity arose to train as a Citizen Scientist I happily seized it," says Sarada.

The forest inventory training was organized from 4th to 10th November, 2012 in Dalla Homestay, Bardia. Altogether 16 people (including 6 females) participated in the training. "This is my second training as a Citizen Scientist," says Sarada. "The first training helped me to understand about citizen science and my role as a citizen scientist. This training was technical as I learnt about Global Positioning System (GPS) program application, participatory rural appraisal mapping, participatory wellbeing ranking, tools of forest inventory, forest laws and guidelines, data analysis and details on forest survey. I am not very educated but I know how to use a computer. I can now create maps with a GPS at home," she adds. In addition to training, the Hariyo Ban Program also provides equipment to the scientists.

"Local communities are the custodians of natural resources. They have the most knowledge about their surroundings and in training them we help build capacity of communities to understand and address conservation issues; recognize changes in local ecosystems such as forest cover including invasion of alien plant species; monitor movement of wildlife; and ultimately develop local stewardship for overall conservation," says Shant Raj Jnawali, Biodiversity Coordinator, Hariyo Ban Program, WWF Nepal.

Citizen Scientists can reach out to places and communities that professional scientists may not be able to access easily, thereby contributing to conservation at both local and national level. They can also support professional scientists in many ways by providing systematic data and pictures, sharing their experiences or disseminating valuable information through conservation outreach programs in their own communities. The Hariyo Ban Program plans to undertake participatory biodiversity monitoring in critical corridors, bottlenecks, and biodiversity-rich community forests and sub-watersheds through trained citizen scientists.

For further information:
Pallavi Dhakal
Communications Officer
WWF Nepal


Disclaimer: The Hariyo Ban Program is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this article are the responsibility of WWF and CARE Nepal and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.




Citizen Scientist training in progress
© WWF Nepal Enlarge
Field observation by citizen scientists at Shiva community forest, Bardiya
© WWF Nepal Enlarge

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