The role of ‘Big Society’ in monitoring the state of the natural environment
Environmental monitoring is essential for assessing the current state of the environment, measuring impacts of environmental pressures and providing evidence to government. Recent UK government announcements have indicated an increased role for ‘Big Society’ in monitoring. In this paper, we review available literature concerning the use of citizen science for monitoring, present examples of successful volunteer monitoring work and highlight important issues surrounding the use of volunteers. We argue that in order to ensure that environmental monitoring continues to be effective it is important to learn from examples where volunteers are currently used, acknowledging constraints and identifying potential approaches which will help to maximise both their engagement and data quality. Effective partnerships between environmental monitoring organisations and volunteers may thus aid the UK in developing robust coordinated monitoring systems that will be less vulnerable to funding variances.