Engaging local citizens in scientific monitoring for catchment restoration: Benefits and recommendations for optimising their involvement

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Nosiseko Mtati

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The Tsitsa Project operates in the Mzimvubu catchment in the former Transkei homelands in South Africa, a poverty-stricken area with limited development opportunities and highly erodible soils. The project aims at rehabilitating degraded areas and limiting further degradation in a way that promotes local livelihoods. Environmental monitoring, a form of citizen science, delivers scientific data and also creates environmental awareness and custodianship. Local monitors have collected water samples for studying sediment transportation since 2015 and are paid per sample as the most feasible model. Until recently, limited research has been done on the potential and actual benefits for the scientific host organisation and none on the potential and actual costs and benefits for environmental monitors. The recent research reported here used document analysis, semi-structured interviews, and participant observations in a realist framing. A key finding was that the income earned plays a big role in the monitors’ lives, but further than that they gained new knowledge, environmental awareness, and confidence. Mutual respect between the monitors and the coordinator was a significant enabling factor. A preliminary conclusion is that monitors want more involvement than just the data collection. Recommendations for how to achieve this will be shared in the presentation.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Society for Ecological Restoration