As conservationists, we believe in people’s power. One of the fields where you can see this is “Citizen Science”, which means scientific research with citizens involved, such as data collection or analyzing scientific data by trained citizens, typically as part of a collaborative project with professional scientists. We’d like to introduce one example of citizen science in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.
Korea Federation of Environmental Movement (KFEM) of Hwaseong, with the EAAFP Secretariat, has implemented a project for local residents in terms of a comprehensive understanding of the Hwaseong Wetlands’ importance for the conservation of local biodiversity and the environment since 2020 (2020 project; 2021 project). The development of local “citizen science” was one of the project’s primary objectives: to enhance local residents’ capacity building regarding the awareness of the significant level of biodiversity which Hwaseong Wetlands possess. Based on the concrete curriculum of online training courses and field monitoring activities such as birdwatching, biodiversity monitoring, and environment lectures at the Hwaseong Wetlands, the Project aims to pave the way to enhance promotion and awareness of the value of Hwaseong Wetlands to the locals, and to develop environmental policymaking process in the long-term perspective.
Following the achievements of the same project in 2021, the Citizen Ecology Survey Group Activity Project resumed in March 2022, focused on providing regular training sessions (online) to participants consisting of residents, who were conducting ecological surveys at sites to understand the biodiversity richness in Hwaseong Wetlands. First of all, online training sessions by wetland-related experts, NGOs, and civil societies introduced the overall background information of Hwaseong Wetlands, categorization of wildlife species, and taught survey methods as well as data archiving processes. These theory-based courses greatly assisted the residents to become familiar with terms and comprehensive knowledge regarding Hwaseong Wetlands.
© EAAFP Secretariat
After the online training programs, the Citizen Ecological Survey Group conducted field survey weekly from April, 2022, focusing on different taxonomic groups such as amphibians, reptiles, migratory waterbirds, benthos, and plants. Along with a biodiversity expert, a group of citizen surveyers visited specific locations at Hwaseong Wetland, such as Maehyang-ri tidal flat and Goeun harbor for field survey.
Ms. Yeonah Ku and Mr. Yong June Kim from the EAAFP Secretariat participated in one survey on benthos in coastal areas along the Hwaseong Wetlands. The expert first explained the survey methods with measuring equipment on the wetlands. Then each participant checked the layers of soil from the wetland and discovered various types of benthos. For example, the benthos found in Goeun harbor were Sentinel Crab, Pea Pebble Crab, Lingula Unguis, Korean Mud Snail, and Lug Worms.
The Citizen Ecological Survey Group Activities are planned to be continued until November 2022; based on a comprehensive analysis and reviewing process through monitoring, the results of the Citizen Science program will be published.