Wildlife citizen scientists wanted at ecology centre

Julie Samuel from the Ecology Centre with Sophie... from the Botanic Gardens with some of the current volunteers
Julie Samuel from the Ecology Centre with Sophie... from the Botanic Gardens with some of the current volunteers
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A £10,000 grant will allow an ecology centre to expand its volunteer projects and take part in vital studies to manage Britain’s countryside.

The £9600 award from the Volunteer Action Fund means the Ecology Centre in Kinghorn can help volunteers with an interest in subjects ranging from trees and plants to bats and bees to become Citizen Scientists and take their interests to a higher level.

They will help the centre embark on a series of studies and monitoring programmes which will feed into national statistics and studies to help plan the way forward for the management of Britain’s countryside.

The new scheme has been hailed as “a great step forward” by staff at the Ecology Centre who say they will now be able to buy new equipment and take on more volunteers as well as working with many more outside agencies to monitor and record the state of various flaura, fauna and insects in and around Kinghorn Loch.

The Citizen Science initiative was launched at the centre last week by Dr Sophie Williams from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh who gave a talk on the scourge of ash dieback disease, which is currently affecting a number of trees in and around the centre, and which will be one of the forthcoming monitoring projects which will be undertaken by staff and volunteers.

Jo Hobbett, projects manager at the Ecology Centre, said: “This Citizen Scientists grant is all about helping us to develop our volunteer projects and allowing people to develop the skills they have picked up and take them to a new level.

“Some of our current volunteers have expressed an interest in getting involved and we want to hear from others who also may have a particular interest which they would like to learn more about.

“We will be working in partnerships with lots of other organisations such as the Botanic Gardens, the Forestry Commission, the Butterfly Conservation Trust etc, and there is scope for people to suggest their own studies.”

Ronnie Mackie, education officer, said: “These are things our volunteers have been doing on a small scale and this will allow us to formalise the projects and expand them to become part of bigger national studies. It is an exciting time.”

Anne Bray from Leven currently does lots of voluntary work at the centre and is interested in becoming involved as a Citizen Scientist.

“This is a great place to volunteer, it’s really friendly and the people are very welcoming. You can learn lots about things you are interested in,” she said.