Citizen Science in the Garden

From counting the birds or the bees, to monitoring tree health or measuring soil moisture, there is plenty that UK gardeners can do to contribute to data gathering and scientific study. These days, you do not have to be a trained scientist to play a role in gathering valuable information. Many gardeners around the UK are contributing their time to collect information about the plants and wildlife in their outside space, which can then be used to further our knowledge of the natural world and help to protect it.

One of the best known citizen science projects in the UK is the Great British Birdwatch – in which many take part in a survey to ascertain the numbers and distribution of British birds. But if you spend a little time online, you will discover that there are plenty of other exciting projects with which gardeners can get involved.

One other citizen science project, run by Friends of the Earth, is the Great British Bee Count, which runs from 17th May to 30th June. Smartphone apps make it easier than ever to get involved in counts like this – even if you don't know a think about bees.

There is also the Big Butterfly Count, which takes place from 19th July - 11th August 2019. Over 100,000 people took part in this count last year and you could join their number this year. The Big Wasp Survey took place from 25th August to 8th September 2018 and you could sign up for this year's count. You could also consider taking part in a Bioblitz event – a number of such events take place throughout the spring and summer months.

Citizen science projects are taking place all the time – and if you are a keen gardener, you are well placed to play your part and make a real difference. Gathering knowledge is one of the most important ways in which we can learn how to change things for the better, and help do what we can to halt the mass extinction of the precious species with whom we share this planet. Man made climate change is the biggest challenge we will ever face. It is only if we all work together that we stand a chance against this existential threat. Growing our own food is one great way to do our part – becoming citizen scientists is another.