Citizen science is an incredibly valuable tool when trying to understand the wider picture of what is going on in the natural world around us. There are hundreds of ways to get involved in citizen science projects, across a multitude of different conservation and monitoring organisations. This, however, may be fairly daunting for the novice citizen scientist and with the backdrop of the current lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these projects simply are not running at the moment.
Despite having to adhere to restrictions on meeting in groups, there are still ways and means of contributing to citizen science data sets, without putting each other at risk. With ever smarter smart phones finding their way into our pockets, it is possible (if you are lucky enough to own one..) to download apps where you can upload your sightings of wildlife.
When recording biological species sightings, one such app is iNaturalist - an app with not only the ability to record what you have seen, but with the added feature of being able to narrow down what you have seen - simply by adding a photo! Adding the location of your sighting is of course important for the data to be in any way usable and this information is also used to help identify the species you have seen, by comparing what you may have found to other sightings nearby.
Given that the use of this app is an endeavour that can be taken out as part of ones daily exercise, either alone or with other members of their household, the TCV Waltham Forest team have set up an Waltham Forest-wide iNaturalist project: Waltham Forest Wildlife. This project includes most of the borough's parks and open spaces and allows locals to contribute their findings to the project.
To take part: simply download the app and whilst out doing your daily exercise take a photo of any interesting plants, fungi or animals that you see and upload it to the app. If you are within the boundary of the park, your sighting will automatically become a part of that parks or open space's project.
If you would like to know more about this project and how you can get involved with citizen science in general, don't hesitate to get in touch!
Jonny Joseland | TCV Green Gym Project Officer