Citizen Science Meets Environmental Restoration: Measuring success through monitoring.

The Citizen Science Project was a three-year project funded with support from MfE’s Community Environment Fund, World Wildlife Fund and Gawith Deans Trust. Its aim was to improve the leadership, strategic direction and coordination of citizen science in New Zealand.

Citizen science involves community volunteers using practical field monitoring tools, that meet scientific best practice, to report on the state of their local environment.

Key activities of the project included:

  • Growing support for citizen science in New Zealand.
  • Determining the scope and availability of citizen science monitoring tools and training.
  • Investigating approaches for enabling and expanding community-based environmental monitoring.
  • Promoting more effective use of data from community monitoring.
  • Sharing findings through a national symposium.

Project activities



Nearly 170 people came together over four meetings (Dunedin, Nelson, Palmerston North and Auckland) to better understand environmental citizen science activities underway (and planned) and network with other interested parties.

Barriers and opportunities for establishing, continuing and growing projects were also debated. Participants ranged from project coordinators, educators, scientists and decision-makers across community groups/trusts, the secondary and tertiary sector, crown research institutes, to government agencies and private enterprise highlighting the broad applicability of citizen science across sectors and organisations.

Field trips

Four field trips investigated projects in action including community predator control initiatives, Marine Meter Square national coastal monitoring, and schools engaging in water quality monitoring. A panel was also held on running a BioBlitz from scientist, museum and community group perspectives.

More training

In year three, the final series of meetings focused on practical training, such as how to monitor water quality, how to design a restoration project monitoring programme. A comprehensive inventory of citizen science programmes, projects, resources and learning opportunities was also produced.

The rich discussions generated over the course of the project combined with a network of citizen science volunteers, coordinators and potential leaders have brought more shape to the field of citizen science in New Zealand. The next steps are to seek funding for mapping out a strategic direction for citizen science in New Zealand and address key barriers identified in working group meetings.