Congratulations to The Grassy Groundcover Research Project and Dr Paul Gibson-Roy of Greening Australia and the University of Melbourne for winning the inaugural $25,000 Earthwatch-Rio Tinto Prize for Citizen Science.
We would also like to congratulate two successful finalists, Citizen Science Program, run by The Barbara Hardy Institute and CoralWatch, developed by the University of Queensland for their outstanding environmental research and contribution.
The awards recognise the important environmental work of citizen scientists that directly involves, educates and inspires the Australian community.
Greening Australia: The Grassy Groundcover Research Project, The University of Melbourne:
The Grassy Groundcover Research Project is recognised for its efforts in uncovering a new approach to protect and restore species-rich, native wildflower grasslands in South-Eastern Australia. These habitats are on the brink of extinction, with less than 1% remaining. Environmental outcomes to date include over sixty field-scale sowing programs which have recreated diverse, native pastures consisting of over 200 species. These grasslands provide new habitat for many native animals which continue to colonize these restored sites.
The Grassy Groundcover Research Project engagesfarmers and local communities who have responded with passion, enthusiasm and local knowledge, contributing to the success of the project.
Citizen Science Program, The Barbara Hardy Institute, (University of South Australia):
The Barbara Hardy Institute’s Citizen Science Program seeks to understand people’s interaction with wildlife and develops new methods of community engagement. The project utilises a number of online surveys methods, identifying how people interact with common wildlife such as the bluetongue lizard, possums, Australian magpies and spiders.
The project has attracted over 6800 surveys from a wide geographic area and implemented a successful and growing education program for teachers and students.
CoralWatch, The University of Queensland:
CoralWatch has developed an observer-based colour chart, a simple way for volunteers to quantify coral bleaching and monitor coral health. CoralWatch volunteers collect data from reefs around the world, with volunteers uploading their data onto the Coralwatch website. The website provides an immediate visual data summary, whilst allowing scientists to conduct large-scale analysis on coral health.
CoralWatch has so far engaged over 1000 volunteers in data collection on 598 reefs. The data has generated new education materials for schools and has helped to raise awareness amongst the wider- community on the importance of reef monitoring and protection.
We would like to thank all applicants for their fantastic contributions to their community. The applications received were remarkable and we encourage all to keep up the great work. Well done to all the citizen scientists out there helping to make a difference.