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Technology to enable non-technical people to record the natural environment: examples from the UK and in the rainforests of Guyana – Jon Parsons

Thursday 16th February

Speaker: Jon Parsons

Theme: Challenging Citizen Science

Nature’s calendar: there was a box of old records and they started to digitalise it — this data then were put online and became nature’s calendar.

Some of those records started in the 16th hundreds. Phenology is important because it provides insights about climate patterns and change.

People see nature happen, getting them involved helps us learn how people experience nature and we can learn from that.

Ancient tree hunt: collecting data to find and preserve old trees, which are home to several species and are living history. More than 100,000 trees have been found and mapped. Each tree has its own website . It tells information raging from about what grows on the tree to how many people have visited it.

Jon had a great way to engage the public by quizzing about species and age of an ancient tree in his picture – guessers won a prize!

Monitoring, recording and verification: It is about engaging the community to influence policy and adapt technology to meet our needs.

The project he is working on in Guyana involves a variety of participants – from village reps  to reps of other organizations

What do these people collect: about farming and food produced, infrastructure, social environment, village life.

Hand held devices: they were provided with bluetooth devices such as the Motorola DEFY. Out in the field Jon trained the project leaders and they tested the mobile phones. Challenges: they learnt about some of the challenges to using the phones. The youth are enthusiastic and they know that the old have knowledge that needs to be captured.

Back in Oxford the data is downloaded and analysed and assessed in terms of ecological data but also in terms of usability.  The data contributes to understanding the drivers of deforestation and forest management.

Community forest monitoring working group: it is all about monitoring and learning and sharing: communitymrv.org for more!

Questions: is the data for you? “The data gathered fulfils the needs of the community;  it is community driven”

Is there jealousy of who get to be involved and collect the data? “It is also driven by the community – the community monitors are verified and monitored by the community so it alleviates the conflict in that way”.

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