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Electronic Green Journal

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Citizen Science for Conservation: Towards a Cleaner, Greener China


Citizen science (CS) is the practice where amateurs without formal scientific training collect data to contribute to the scientific observations available to scientists and decision makers (Bonney, et al., 2009). Citizen science is increasingly utilized for environmental protection and conservation as well as related purposes such as education, access to nature, access to justice, inclusion, civics and equality or other ‘social goods’ (Mor Barak, 2020; Makuch & Aczel, 2020).  Several eco-citizen science projects are developing in China (Chen, et al., 2020; Hsu, Yeo & Weinfurter, 2020), though little research has evaluated their effectiveness in facilitating environmental protection or advancing social goods. This paper aims to identify the role and potential benefits of environmental citizen science in China to promote environmental and social objectives within the context of what has been called “authoritarian environmentalism” (Beeson, 2018).

Through semi-structured interviews and a review of the (limited) available literature, we identify three key areas in which citizen science could potentially benefit environmental protection and promote social good in China: (1) fostering education to inform society and encourage environmental advocacy; (2) facilitating effective environmental governance through monitoring and litigation; and (3) improving data collection for biodiversity and conservation research.

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