What counts? Volunteers and their organisations in the recording and monitoring of biodiversity
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- Bell, S., Marzano, M., Cent, J. et al. Biodivers Conserv (2008) 17: 3443. doi:10.1007/s10531-008-9357-9
There is a pressing need for volunteer amateur naturalists to participate in data collection for biodiversity monitoring programmes in Europe. It is being addressed in some countries, but less so in others. This paper discusses the results from qualitative research using semi-structured interviews, focus groups and participant observation within nine Participatory Monitoring Network (PMN) organisations in six European countries. The paper examines the features that facilitate recruitment, retention and motivations of volunteers to participate in biodiversity monitoring, including the social and cultural milieus in which they operate. The paper concludes that volunteers place a high degree of significance on their social experience within PMNs. Successful creation and management of PMNs thus requires that similar levels of attention be paid to social aspects of the organisation as are paid to the generation and management of data.