Applying Citizen Science to Freshwater Ecosystem Restoration

  • Monica A. Peters
  • David Hamilton
  • Chris Eames


Interest in citizen science is growing globally as environmental degradation continues, information needs increase and value of stronger relationships between the science community and public is recognised. How community volunteers participate in citizen science ranges from solely collecting environmental data to being fully engaged in project design and delivery. In New Zealand, community groups lead diverse environmental restoration projects. Responding to an online questionnaire, 137 groups (from a total of 296) reported carrying out their own monitoring to measure environmental change. While 98 of 239 groups reported an interest in monitoring water quality in the future, current freshwater monitoring activities were reported as limited (33 of 143 groups). Current monitoring centred mostly on stream macroinvertebrate counts. Three case studies are presented that outline how community groups have engaged in collecting water quality data. In contrast, a strong culture of volunteer water quality monitoring exists where programmes are designed to educate participants while also providing data for fundamental research, e.g. in the USA, and for government agency-led environmental decision-making. To encourage wider participation of communities, professional scientists and government agencies in citizen science, principles underpinning the development and implementation of long-term volunteer monitoring programmes are outlined. Stronger community participation in monitoring has the potential to improve both scientific and environmental literacy while building more complete data sets describing trends in freshwater resources. Furthermore, in New Zealand an informed and engaged public is in line with goals of local, regional and national government to increase public involvement in freshwater through participatory decision-making.


Volunteer monitoring Water quality Participatory decision-making 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monica A. Peters
    • 1
  • David Hamilton
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chris Eames
    • 3
  1. 1.Environmental Research InstituteThe University of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Australian Rivers InstituteGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Technology, Environmental, Mathematics and Science Education Research Centre, University of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

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