Catch the citizen science fair at Kirstenbosch

Citizen scientists get to travel far and wide in search of rarities, such as Napier.

There will be a citizen-science fair at Kirstenbosch this Saturday April 14, Citizen Science Day.

Museums, aquariums, universities, government agencies and other organisations will have stands showing you how you can get involved.

This will be the fourth international Citizen Science Day, and according to Ismail Ebrahim, the project manager of the Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) programme, it celebrates the work of citizen scientists around the world, encourages others to get involved.

“Citizen science has played a significant role in collecting biodiversity data in South Africa and has made significant contributions to our understanding of biodiversity and ensuring that it is protected in the future,” said Mr Ebrahim.

“For example, Crew volunteers monitor populations of rare and threatened plants.

“These data feeds into the red (rare) list assessments and contributes to distribution mapping, understanding population trends and conservation prioritisation.

“The Crew programme falls under the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), which, among other things, manages the country’s botanical gardens, including Kirstenbosch.

“Advances in technology have made it easier for growing numbers of people to connect and share observations that enhance the work of Crew and projects like it.

“Citizen scientists contribute to collecting much more data that can be made available for research, conservation planning and assessments,” said Mr Ebrahim.

“Citizen scientists also play an important role in raising the profile of sites and species to ensure that they’re protected and conserved.

“Citizen scientists also play a role in protecting sites where these species occur by forming interest groups to help conservation agencies manage and protect the sites.”

Apart from Crew, other biodiversity-monitoring projects include Bird Atlas, Frog Atlas, rePhotoSA and iNaturalist. You can also get involved in citizen science through NGOs like the Botanical Society, the Westlake-based Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa or the Endangered Wildlife Trust.

The fair will be held at Kirstenbosch’s Old Mutual Conference Centre, from 9am to 4pm, on Saturday. Entry is free.

On Sunday April 15 there will be a field trip, but the venue has still to be confirmed. Contact Mr Ebrahim at 021 799 8751, or I.Ebrahim@sanbi.org.za for more informa-
tion.