Pioneering new project in three African countries proves local volunteers can monitor the health of birds and their habitats.
Participants in the bird monitoring scheme in Botswana in action. © Bathusi Letlhare
Not all countries have the resources to conduct big scientific surveys. A pioneering new project across three African countries proves that local volunteers are an effective way to monitor the health of birds and the habitats they live in.
Every day, thousands of people around the world head outdoors, binoculars slung around their neck, and walk through their neighbourhood or head out to local parks and reserves, spotting and enjoying birds. International events – like EuroBirdwatch (6-7 October 2018), Global Big Day (6 October 2018) and World Migratory Bird Day (13 October 2018) – capitalise on this interest by adding a competitive element and encouraging people to record as many birds as they can in a standardised way.
These organised events are just one part of efforts around the world to engage volunteers in citizen science, and more specifically in bird monitoring. The idea behind these projects is simple: the more we know about birds – where they are, how many there are, and what they are doing – the better we can protect them and their habitats. By their nature, many of the world’s best-known and most popular birds are common and widespread, occurring in habitats where people live, work and play, such as gardens, parks, farmland and woodland. This makes them ideal subjects for monitoring by citizen scientists. Read all about this intriguing initiative here.