Citizen Science: September Update

17th October, 2023

How can we learn together to transform gardens into habitat for wildlife? The Turning Gardeners into Conservationists team have recently shared project outcomes with environmental researchers and practitioners both nationally and internationally.

The TGIC project connects people with the biodiversity in their own gardens by training and supporting citizen scientists to identify and monitor wildlife, and take action to create a wildlife-friendly garden. Citizen scientists involved in the project have recently hit an exciting milestone, with 185 different wildlife species spotted by participating citizen scientists in their gardens over the past 12 months – and there are still a few months of monitoring to go!

Dr Bronte Van Helden presenting at the Urban Greening Symposium.

The data collected through the TGIC project is helping to build knowledge on the importance of gardens for providing habitat to wildlife, including the diversity of species that use garden structures for water and shelter, as well as the importance of connecting with and supporting wildlife in gardens for human health and wellbeing. An important part of this research is to share it (including through these project highlights), and to learn with and from others working in this space. To contribute to the global conversation on urban greening and biodiversity conservation, Dr Bronte Van Helden (UWA) and Dr Laura Skates (Perth NRM) have each recently shared the TGIC project with national and international audiences.

Dr Bronte Van Helden and colleagues from various Australian and American organisations visiting urban greening sites in the City of Canning. Photo: Meredith Hovis.

In March, Dr Bronte Van Helden (UWA) visited research colleagues in Arizona, USA, to learn about their urban greening research programs, and present some preliminary results of the TGIC project. While in the US, the University of Arizona and City of Tucson showed Bronte and UWA colleagues a variety of residential areas where green stormwater infrastructure had been installed along with native plants to achieve water-saving, cooling and biodiversity benefits. In October, the Arizonan colleagues returned the favour by visiting Perth to attend and present at the Urban Greening Symposium held at UWA, including Blue Baldwin (City of Tucson) on the Storm to Shade program, and Professors Adriana Zuniga-Teran and Kenneth Kokroko (University of Arizona) on the Spanning Boundaries Challenge. The visiting Americans were also shown numerous urban greening sites in Perth, along with field trips to Kings Park and Botanic Gardens and Karakamia Sanctuary to highlight the beautiful flora and fauna of this region.

Dr Laura Skates with Costa Georgiadis at the AAEE conference.

In September, Dr Laura Skates (Perth NRM) also presented about the TGIC project at the Australian Association for Environmental Educators (AAEE) conference, in Wollongong, NSW. Environmental educators from around Australia and the world were impressed by the data collected by citizen scientists’, and were also very interested in the training workshops, videos, and guides that the project team developed to assist TGIC participants to identify and monitor wildlife and install wildlife-friendly structures. Other highlights from the AAEE conference include a keynote from gardening legend Costa Georgiadis; a visit to the Wollongong Botanic Garden’s Tiny Forest which shows how a big environmental impact can be delivered in a small space; and learning from other urban greening programs such as Waverly Council’s Living Connections gardens.

Dr Laura Skates presenting on the TGIC project and ReWild Perth program.

Both Laura and Bronte will be presenting at the upcoming Australian Citizen Science Association Conference on the Sunshine Coast, QLD, and are looking forward to sharing insights from both the ecological and sociological research components. These results will also be shared with TGIC participants at events to be held in March 2024 – so stay tuned for details!

The ‘Turning Gardeners into Conservationists’ project is proudly delivered by UWA Albany and Perth NRM, through funding from the Australian Government’s Inspiring Australia Science Engagement Programme.

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