Citizen science kits to equip people to tackle biodiversity loss

Nuacht /

10 county library services to make ecology equipment freely available for citizens looking to join the fight against biodiversity loss, in plans announced today by the Heritage Council to celebrate World Wildlife Day.

The Heritage Council has today launched the Citizen Science Kit Pilot Programme, an initiative that will empower the public to collect information about biodiversity in their local area. Through the programme, and in partnership with Kilkenny County Council Library Service, people can now access specialised equipment in selected county library services* around the country and collect valuable data by using the kit which includes nets, magnifying glasses and swatches to help identity species.

*A full list of county libraries participating in the pilot programme is available in the Notes for Editors below

The initiative, which is being launched on World Wildlife Day, is designed to assist an increasingly engaged public, many of whom are eager to contribute to the preservation of our biodiversity but who lack the tools to do so. Current and future citizen scientists were at the launch in Loughboy Public Library, Kilkenny, where heritage specialist Úna Halpin demonstrated how to get the most of the kit.

It is expected that the kits will be used by students looking to conduct their own studies, amateur ecologists wishing to produce their own biodiversity action plans and by community groups such as Tidy Towns, River Trusts and Field Clubs who want to gather information to bolster local biodiversity projects.

In all cases, records gathered should be sent to Ireland’s National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC), whose role it is to collect and manage data and information about Ireland’s biodiversity. When records are submitted to the NBDC, it helps researchers to monitor changes in biodiversity and identify areas of conservation concern. Records submitted inform conservation strategies and provide evidence for policy decisions.

Commenting on the launch of the programme, Chief Executive of the Heritage Council, Virginia Teehan said:

“Over the last few years, we have witnessed a huge increase in the number of communities wanting to become more actively involved in tackling the international crises of biodiversity loss and climate change. We have tracked this through the many community groups and NGOs we have funded in recent times to purchase basic ecological equipment in their efforts to understand their local environment and the species they share their home with. By engaging communities in this process, we can further help to ensure that conservation efforts are successful and effective.”

Commenting at the launch today, Josephine Coyne of the Kilkenny County Council Library Service said:

“Local libraries play a fundamental role in providing a space for people to access information and acquire knowledge so with this in mind the idea of making citizen science kits and information available via their public libraries is wholly appropriate and we are very excited about the potential that this new pilot programme offers. I would like to acknowledge my colleagues in the 10 pilot County Library Services, including our own here in Kilkenny, who are offering these kits to members of the public from today. Their support for the project will be crucial in ensuring the success of the programme.”

The kits are free to loan but anyone wishing to borrow a kit must be an adult member of the relevant library service. Species records should be sent to Ireland’s National Biodiversity Data Centre.

Notes for Editors

The 10 pilot County Library Services offering the citizen science kit are:

  • Carlow
  • Cork County
  • Donegal
  • Galway
  • Kildare
  • Kilkenny
  • Laois
  • Tipperary
  • Sligo
  • Wexford

Media contact: Pearse Ó Caoimh, Heritage Council. e.
t. 085 859 0378