Citizen science is the latest trend in resource cataloguing, but researchers say that engaging non-scientists in this way introduce them to a world that usually gathers dust in archives or allow them to discover new things.
There are a number of citizen science projects in South Africa, allowing anyone interested to choose the project that would suit their interests best.
For example, rePhotoSA, an initiative out of the Plant Conservation Unit and the Animal Demography Unit at the University of Cape, is collecting photos from around southern Africa to track how climate change and development have altered landscapes. It calls itself a “repeat photography project of southern African landscapes.”
For a more hands-on experience, the miniSASS project aims to create an inventory of life in our rivers and dams. The types and numbers of small animals living in our water bodies tell whether that water is in a good condition or not.
Based on the SASS (the South African Scoring System), this initiative — which is the brain-child of the Water Research Commission, environmental consulting organisation GroundTruth, and the Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa (Wessa). This information is then passed on to policy makers.