Citizen Science

Make your observations count!

Conservation of our wildlife and green spaces relies on data – information on where our wild plants and animals live, how healthy they are, whether their populations are increasing or declining, and how they are reacting to environmental change. Some of this data is collected by professional ecologists working for land managers, local authorities and conservation organisations, but most of it comes from amateurs with an interest in nature. So, if you enjoy looking at plants and animals in your garden, local park, or anywhere else, records of what you see can contribute to conservation. So please record what you see, and pass those records on.

In London, records are collated by Greenspace Information for Greater London (GiGL), the environmental records centre. You can submit records online on GiGL’s website or, for records from Tower Hamlets, e-mail the Biodiversity Officer, who can report them on our Latest Wildlife Reports page as well as passing them on to GiGL.

All records are valuable, but if they are collected in a systematic way, as part of an organised survey, they can be of even greater value. That is because comparisons can be made between different sites, or different years, much more easily if all the data is collected in the same way. This is why the numerous “citizen science” surveys run by a wide variety of different organisations are so important. There are loads to choose from, covering birds, butterflies, pests & diseases, timing of seasonal events, and many other aspects of nature. Some require regular weekly or monthly counts at a particular site, others just one day a year, and others seek records at any time. So there are likely to be one or more to suit anyone with an interest in the natural world. So why not give them a go?

Here’s a list of some of the citizen science surveys that you could contribute to in Tower Hamlets (follow the links for more information):

Surveys specific to Tower Hamlets
Tower Hamlets Wildlife Survey – tell us where in Tower Hamlets you see hedgehogs, bats, house sparrows, frogs and stag beetles.
Tower Hamlets Bee Survey – choose a site and count bees for 15 minutes at least monthly.

Big Garden Birdwatch – count birds in your garden or local park for one hour over a specific weekend in January each year.
Garden BirdWatch – count birds (and other wildlife if you like) in your garden at roughly the same time every week.
Breeding Bird Survey – count birds on two visits every spring to a specified 1 kilometre grid square.

Big Butterfly Count – count butterflies for 15 minutes at any site during a specified three-week period each summer.
Garden Butterfly Survey – report on the butterflies in your garden at least once a month.
UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme transects – record butterflies weekly along a standard route.
Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey – count butterflies in a specified 1 kilometre grid square on two visits each year.

Amphibians & reptiles
Dragon Finder App – download Froglife’s app and report sightings of amphibians and reptiles.

Timing of seasonal events
Nature’s Calendar – choose a site and record seasonal events every year.

Pests, diseases and invasive species
Garden Wildlife Health – report sick or dead amphibians, birds and mammals.
Observatree – look out for and report pests and diseases of trees.
Recording Invasive Species Counts – report sightings of invasive non-native plants and animals.