Citizen scientists’ important contributions to biodiversity conservation are constrained by their focus on data collection and public outreach in wealthy, accessible places. Sustainable conservation actions require initiatives such as those supported by the Participatory Monitoring and Management Partnership (www.pmmpartnership.com), in which data collected by land owners and resource users help to guide local decision-makers on conservation management.
Citizen scientists do not formulate research questions, analyse data or implement management solutions on the basis of research findings. By contrast, participatory monitoring by local and indigenous communities in tropical, Arctic and developing regions enables them to propose solutions for environmental problems, advance sustainable economic opportunities, exert management rights and contribute to global environmental data sets.
Such monitoring could benefit from the large-scale databases and knowledge integration pioneered by citizen science. Conversely, citizen science could benefit from the community-based monitoring practices used to build data-collection methods, analytical tools, communication networks and skilled workforces in culturally appropriate, place-based governance structures.