31 Jul 2019 - 09:15

The Plant Conservation Unit is pleased to announce the publication of an exciting new paper by Joseph M. Hulbert, Sophia C. Turner, and Samantha L. Scott in the South African Journal of Science. The article is titled, "Challenges and solutions to establishing and sustaining citizen science projects in South Africa” and was published online yesterday, 30 July 2019. The article gives an introduction to the rePhotoSA project, run by the Plant Conservation Unit and the Fitzpatrick Institute at UCT. The abstract is provided below but the full paper may be downloaded here.


"Citizen science is a term for research that engages non-scientists in the collection and generation of data. Many citizen science projects exist within South Africa and, because of their success, we expect more projects will be initiated. In this Commentary, we discuss three projects based in, but not confined to, the Western Cape Province to provide context for their methods, specific objectives and overall desired impacts. We then identify a few challenges that we have faced from the researcher perspective and we provide recommendations for those interested in initiating a citizen science project in South Africa. Many projects involve citizen scientists because their participation enhances the breadth of the research through the collection of data over greater spatio-temporal scales.1-3 However, not all projects in South Africa have purely research objectives, some are education-oriented with the specific objective of empowering the participants. In some cases, the educational objectives may be motivated by the desire to engage local communities or by the understanding of ubuntu wisdom. Citizen science is therefore a powerful approach to address multiple objectives, but there are many challenges to achieving the desired outcomes. We outline these challenges below within the context of an education-oriented project, a research-oriented project and a project that combines the two objectives."