Re-thinking Citizen Science To Be More Effective in Land-Use and Conservation Planning

Sunday, 15 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
John Gallo , Conservation Biology Institute, Corvallis, OR
Citizen science has blossomed in the past decade, but some unfortunate trends are emerging and becoming codified.  Now is the time to critically examine some of these and decide if alternatives deserve evaluation before the original trend becomes entrenched.  One problem is that citizen science data are not readily available to most land-use planning or conservation planning efforts.  These efforts have profound influence on society and biodiversity by guiding where we are going to do what on the planet.  However, such efforts have limited budgets, and often rely on wading through the thousands geographic information system (GIS) layers that are readily available.  Meanwhile, a vast majority of citizen science efforts are issue specific and have not made strides to make their data readily available in GIS form in common GIS clearinghouses, nor have they provided proper quality control attributes to their data that will allow for the rigorous filtering and uncertainty analyses necessary for uptake into the planning arena. Fortunately, there are several proximate steps that individual efforts as well as the newly formed Citizen Science Association can take to counter these negative trends, thereby making a citizen science effort useful for not only it original intent (usually monitoring), but also for planning.  This will facilitate the vision of society working together in an ongoing and participatory cycle of planning, monitoring, evaluation, and revision, at multiple scales.  Some of the other benefits of this alternative framework is that it not only brings a whole new audience and set of participants, but it also helps prioritize how existing citizen science efforts can be enhanced and which new efforts should be created.