Motivations and barriers in relation to community participation in biodiversity recording

Hobbs, S.J and White, P.C.L (2012) 'Motivations and barriers in relation to community participation in biodiversity recording.' Journal for Nature Conservation, 20 (6). pp. 364-373. ISSN 1617-1381

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Members of the public are involved increasingly in environmental and wildlife monitoring. This has clear environmental benefits in terms of the contribution to long-term datasets and monitoring, and it also yields social benefits, both to the participants concerned and to the wider community. However, there is concern that participation is not spread evenly across different social or ethnic groups in society, as is the case for other forms of volunteering. In this paper, we seek to develop a better understanding of the motivations and barriers affecting participation in wildlife monitoring, through a study of public participation in wildlife monitoring schemes in the UK. We integrate information from interviews with representatives of organisations running the schemes with the results of surveys of participants to identify organisational and personal perceptions of motivations and barriers, and quantify the socio-economic bias in participation. Our results show that people from socio-economically deprived areas are under-represented in recording schemes at both the national and local levels. Organisers of the schemes expressed a desire to change this, but felt unable to do so due to limitations of resources and the difficulty of attracting the necessary media coverage. The major motivating factors for current participants in wildlife recording schemes included the chance to make a positive contribution to conservation and personal benefits, which were clearly linked with health and wellbeing. Barriers to involvement include a lack of awareness of opportunities, a lack of motivation, a lack of accessibility of the schemes, both in terms of equipment or facilities and knowledge, and financial costs of participation. Although there are challenges associated with gathering ecological data through citizen science, including data reliability, our findings show that many recording schemes do indeed provide clear benefits to nature conservation and participants alike. However, biases in representation of participants persist, despite the efforts of many organisations to make their schemes more accessible. More work still needs to be done with groups currently under-represented in such schemes to understand and overcome the remaining barriers to participation, so that the personal and social benefits that arise from participation can be realised.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: citizen science, deprived areas, monitoring, nature conservation organisations, NGO, public participation, wellbeing, wildlife monitoring
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Divisions: School of Sciences
Identification Number:
Date Deposited: 22 Nov 2019 16:18
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2021 09:53
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