Tamar Citizen Science Investigations (CSI) has aimed to encourage local interest groups, residents and communities to engage with their local river catchment and become actively involved in its environmental protection.
In recent years, and in large part facilitated by the WaterLIFE Project, there has been a significant increase in the adoption of “Citizen Science” approaches by Rivers Trusts, CaBA Catchment Partnerships and a variety of other environmental NGOs and civil society groups. Citizen science is an excellent way to engage and empower local communities and individuals to become stewards of their own water environment.
Westcountry Rivers Trust (WRT) initiated its citizen science programme in 2014 under the banner of “become a river scientist”, which received a very positive response from local stakeholders. A launch event as Tamar CSI at a river festival in autumn 2015 helped the initiative be picked up by a local BBC Radio Devon Presenter, Jo Loosemore, who recorded a series on citizen science for her Sunday morning programme. This led to the approach starting to expand outside of the Tamar to other west country catchments, and its re-branding as Westcountry CSI.
As part of this growth, WRT drew in additional Big Lottery funding to create a digital platform/ application for volunteers to capture their findings via a personal communications tool such as a mobile phone or tablet. Monitoring of findings enables WRT to best act on potential pollution incidents identified.
Westcountry CSI now has over 100 members across the SW and has a bespoke website for them to submit their records.