‘Benefits are huge’: Have your say on future citizen scientist programs
  • Wednesday 09 November 2022
NatureWatch taking photo of bats

The Sunshine Coast citizen science program is growing, and council is calling on our community for their ideas.

Citizen science is when people volunteer their time to partner with researchers to increase scientific knowledge and collect data about their natural environment.

A new program, NatureWatch Sunshine Coast, aims to create an overarching nature-based citizen science program and expand the opportunities available to our community.

Sunshine Coast Council Environment and Liveability Portfolio Councillor Maria Suarez said council already had many successful citizen science opportunities.

“From protecting turtles with TurtleCare, counting Glossy Black-Cockatoos, butterfly spotting at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve and cleaning up our coastline with the marine debris program – council already has some very successful scientific partnerships underway with our community,” Cr Suarez said.

“One of our goals for NatureWatch is to ensure there is something for everyone, whatever their age or interests and make it easier to see what citizen science projects are available.

“This is why we are calling on the community to submit ideas and views on potential new programs such as animal identification, monitoring plants while walking along hiking trails, using technology to monitor reserves, looking for animals in camera images, monitoring seagrass or nest boxes in trees.”

Cr Suarez said collaboration through citizen science had a meaningful impact for our community, our council and our environment.

“Citizen science gives people a chance to explore a passion outside of their day job, expand on an interest, learn a new skill, meet likeminded people and provide a valuable contribution to our environment,” Cr Suarez said.

“For council, it means more help monitoring and collecting data on our local areas which expands our knowledge of local species.

“This data helps us to evaluate our current environmental management actions and inform our future direction.

“In the end, it’s the biodiversity of all our natural areas that is the real winner.”

NatureWatch opportunities could include:

  • transect surveying – measuring percentage of seagrass cover with quadrats
  • animal identification with binoculars – bird or butterfly watching
  • passive monitoring while walking – counting animal and plant occurrences and life cycle along hiking trails or beaches
  • ·vegetation monitoring – capturing and reviewing images
  • data processing – identify species of animals or plants by reviewing camera images
  • ·nest box monitoring – monitoring nest-boxes in trees to determine if they are being used by what animal.

The community is encouraged to provide their ideas through the NatureWatch survey at haveyoursay.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au before December 2, 2022.