Aug 4, 2012 - Ecological Society of America: Public Participation in Research
Posted on Aug 4th, 2012
The power of citizen science stems from the contributions and insights of many participants. Similarly, we can build expertise in this field by sharing our growing (and evolving) knowledge and experiences about how to develop, facilitate, manage, and sustain projects.
In August of 2012, 300 science researchers, project leaders, educators, technology specialists, evaluators, and others – representing many disciplines (including astronomy, molecular biology, human and environmental health, and ecology) – gathered to engage in dialogue and an exchange of ideas. This landmark event launched an ongoing conversation to share insights across projects and fields of study, and to advance the field of Public Participation in Scientific Research (PPSR). To take that conversation beyond the bounds of the meeting room, presentations, posters, videos, and final reports are being made available on this site.
In 1990 things were very bad for sea turtles in northwestern Mexico. The president had decreed a permanent moratorium on their hunting, collecting, use or sale but the black market filled the void due to a lack of enforcement and popular support. Experts agreed that it was too late for Baja’s sea turtles. Our academic advisors and funders suggested we not bother trying. Twenty years later we are telling a much different story. Sea turtles represent a rare bright spot on the conservation landscape, thanks to the innovative and sometimes controversial approach of the Grupo Tortuguero Network. Turtle hunters and consumers have taken on the role of researchers and protectors in fifty communities spanning 3,000 miles of coastline. While threats remain, populations are now increasing, dozens of community-based organizations are leading the way, and the Grupo Tortuguero network is holding its fifteenth annual meeting. At the core of these successes are an understanding of open-source movement building, neuroconservation and the value of emotional diversity. The model, known as the Conservation Mosaic, has been exported around the world to Cuba, Indonesia, El Salvador, Japan and Chile through a series of exchanges and consultations. Declaring this a conservation success story would be premature, but populations and attitudes are moving in the right direction: up.