Vacation with a purpose

Do you already have any plans for summer vacation? This time, I’ve prepared a list of citizen science activities that will inspire you to make the most of your time while you are hiking, climbing, or diving.

In mountains

Biosphere Expeditions 

I’m trying to find more information about citizen science projects in Russia, and recently I’ve come across this platform – Biosphere Expeditions: mountain protection worldwide through citizen science and volunteering. They run projects all over the world, many in mountain environments such as the Altai Mountains, where I’m going to the Altai in a couple of weeks, Tien Shan, Carpathians, Cape Fold Mountains, Dhofar Mountains and the Pyrenees. I have already a trekking route, a list of outdoor and cultural activities. Still, all this wasn’t enough for me and I contacted local scientists who engage tourists into citizen science projects carried out in the Altai region. Hopefully, during my vacation, I will not only explore a beautiful area in the South-Western Siberia but also help local activists and researchers with data collection and contribute to mountain protection through citizen science.

Fingerprints of Change: Abisko plants and phenology

I highly recommend the project if you are staying in Sweden for this summer and going to the Abisko and the Swedish mountains. The project has been carried out by The Climate Impacts Research Centre, Umeå University, in partnership with  The naturum Abisko, STF Abisko Mountain Station, Abisko Scientific Research Station, and Naturens kalender (The Swedish National Phenology Network). The project aims at collecting species distributions and studying cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, especially in relation to climate and plant and animal life for the region in and around Abisko National Park.

The creators of the project picked 40 species of plants that most amateur botanists familiar with the flora of the Swedish mountains can identify. As a participant of the project, you don’t need to have skills of defining and naming groups of biological organisms. All you need is to take pictures with your smartphone. If you want to learn more about the plant and animal life in the area, you can participate in education programs or take botanical tours at The naturum Abisko, observe the indicators of climate and environmental change together with scientists and gather data for fundamental research.

In water


Earthdive is a global citizen science project that calls on recreational scuba divers and snorkelers to monitor the ocean for key indicator species. Divers and snorkelers are encouraged to record what they see straight after the dive or snorkel trip, and it doesn’t matter if you just saw one dolphin. Still, it’s important.

Observations of the participants are recorded in a special database known as the Global Dive Log and are accessible through a Google mapping interface. Over time, observations are aggregated to create a Global Snapshot of the state of the world’s oceans. In addition to being an international research project, Earthdive is also a network for divers, dive centres and marine conservation organisations around the world. Being a contributor to the project, you can help preserve the health and diversity of our oceans. The platform has been developed in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme – World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and marine biologists from all over the world.

Tauchen für Naturschutz [Diving for Nature protection]

It’s a German project initiated by NABU (Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union) for those who are passionate about diving in lakes. Scuba divers are enabled by the project to independently assess and report on the state of the underwater vegetation of lakes during the dive. The project aims to map underwater plants in the lakes of the North German lowland and monitor the lakes that are in danger. The data obtained provide information about how the state of the lakes is changing. The project works on the principle of ”learning by doing”: the conservationists taught aquatic plants to recreational divers and scuba divers offered diving to conservationists. After the dive, they were discussed together, evaluated and documented. The project has been a success, and now there is even a special course ”Diving for Nature protection”.


More links:

Blue Mountain Citizen Science monitoring program – a project that aims to record and collect data about changes to the environment in the Blue Mountains region, Australia.

Phenoclim – a scientific and educational programme that invites the public to measure the impact of climate change on mountain fauna and flora. Works in 6 mountains, including French.

Plankton Portal – in this project, you’ll be marking images of plankton—tiny oceanic organisms—taken by an underwater imaging system.

Seagrass-Watch – Seagrass-Watch is a global scientific, non-destructive, seagrass assessment and monitoring program.

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