Perhaps because of this we perceive great interest by the farmers themselves to work together with natural and social scientists to develop a better sense of their surrounding and the impact of emerging socio-economic and environmental drivers upon their livelihoods. There are indications that this can only work as a two-way dialogue and knowledge co-generation process between scientists and local communities.
Insights into local experiences can furthermore facilitate the formulation of a more contextually specific understanding of change on the basis of a more balanced representation of citizen and expert knowledge. In recognition of the data scarcity and high uncertainties, there is evidence of policy making acknowledging the fact that new understanding and potential solutions can be achieved through wider public participation.
One example is the involvement of volunteers in the collection of hydrological and meteorological data since the establishment of hydrological and meteorological services in Nepal. Although the volunteers receive a monthly wage from the Nepalese Hydrology and Meteorology Office, it is very small the price of a cup of tea and do not form a part of income contribution.
Little is known about the precise mechanisms that motivate volunteers to contribute to data collection, though it is clear that complex range of factors are involved. This may include for example a sense of national pride, since these volunteers perceive that they are helping the Nepalese meteorological authorities to collect basic data. While for many centuries this area was inhabited mainly by Kyrgyz herders following traditional resource use patterns, in the Soviet era collectivized state farms were established.
As these farms were specialized in livestock production, all arable land was used for the production of fodder crops to feed a variety of livestock, mainly sheep, goats, and cattle. Within the collective farms, specialized employees were given instruction by educated pasture, cropland and water management specialists from academic institutions, and supported with well-equipped infrastructure to monitor climate, river runoff and pasture land conditions. However, despite training and equipment, since the s Soviet scientists reported increasing pasture degradation attributed mainly to overuse of the natural resources Kerven et al.
As aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan faced another restructuring process, with consequent major political and societal upheavals. Moving from a planned economy to a market-based economy through the s, privatization and land reforms led to a significant redistribution of assets such as cropland, livestock and state farm equipment. Additionally, the majority of families became very dependent on subsistence farming, with livestock as the primary source of household income.
This major socio-economic transition was accompanied by deterioration of the transport and irrigation networks and the environmental monitoring infrastructure, matched also by inadequate collaboration and data-sharing among institutions involved henceforth in more localized decentralized decision-making. This trend has continued to the present, however the patterns and drivers of degradation have changed over time. Ongoing climate change is further exacerbating the above challenges and is impacting natural resources, leading to higher frequencies of natural disaster occurrence.
From a perspective of water availability and management, the main challenges in Naryn include limited public investment, high inter-sectoral competition e. Regarding water shortage and related resource management, a dual strategic response is generally adopted: increasing irrigation water availability with construction and rehabilitation of infrastructure, and strengthening and improving water governance institutions. Current development projects in the region mostly address the organization of water administration including the promotion and institutional development of water users associations WUAs , improvement of water allocation mechanisms among farmers and between village WUAs, and the promotion of technical improvements for more efficient water use.
At present there is little opportunity or local capacity in rural areas of Naryn to monitor water resources. However, a participatory citizen science approach is promising for such a data scarce region — and could be used profitably not only to fill data and information gaps, but also to work collaboratively with pastoral communities to generate relevant management-oriented knowledge.
The use of citizen science can help provide a mobilizing and empowering effect within the community if appropriate motivational factors are clearly identified. Through development of long-term partnerships and joint elaboration of key research questions or problems to address, both scientists and community members may value such collaborative work and together develop participatory processes to monitor water flow and collect relevant environmental data, and to collaborate in data processing, analysis, knowledge generation, and transparent monitoring.
Local motivation for participation in joint work is likely to include both intrinsic and extrinsic factors, including both personal development and curiosity as well as an anticipation of future economic advantages. Furthermore, the effective application of citizen science for knowledge generation is likely to depend on identifying and working alongside unique innovative individuals who are willing to consider and trial new collaborative management approaches.
From a technical perspective, a variety of new mobile tools and instruments, e. There are, however, some challenges to the uptake of citizen science as a community-endorsed concept. Some beneficiaries of the current social status quo — often former Soviet era elites — may also have an interest in preserving their status and privileges.
Yet in the democratizing Republic there is generally a sustained growth of local people's involvement in governing processes, even though sometimes there remain or are increases in asymmetric power relations that complicate the development of strong civil institutions and consensual decision making. Additionally, as a result of recent changes in national pasture legislation, there is a potential for increased village-level engagement in the development of pasture management plans. Individual herders thus have increasing opportunity to make their own natural resource management decisions, as well as to be represented on village pasture management committees.
Thus, in the context of recent socio-political development in the Kyrgyz Republic, despite some continuing legacy of Soviet times, there are clear opportunities for the emergence of citizen partnerships. As part of a UK-funded Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation ESPA project, community meetings have now taken place over several months along with the collection of baseline information e. Through this process, several ecosystem services have been identified including the provision of grassland forage, fodder, livestock products such as milk and wool, water for irrigation, water flow regulation, soil erosion control, biodiversity and carbon sequestration.
All these ecosystem services benefit or impact directly on pastoral livelihoods, and nearly all are related to the water cycle. From this perspective, the project team deems it to be a sensible hypothesis that the legitimacy of local knowledge will be increasingly recognized and its uptake into local decision-making will increase during the process of production of new local knowledge about water and related environmental variables with engaged community members. The process of identifying topics of common interest and specific questions deemed to be of local significance is on-going.
Despite being an intrinsic part of the scientific discovery and knowledge generation process, the concept and potential of citizen science in itself only recently received increasing scientific attention. New technological developments are supporting novel and more efficient methods for data collection and processing, visualization and communication. These opportunities make reflecting upon the challenges and opportunities of citizen science, especially in a context of managing natural resources and leveraging them for human well-being, timely and relevant.
This is particularly the case for water resources, which is often one of the most fundamental ecosystem services and a significant bottleneck for sustainable development and poverty alleviation. Our review of technologies reveals a large potential for increasing involvement of citizens in data collection because of the availability of inexpensive, robust and highly automated sensors, and the possibility to combine them with powerful environmental models to create rich and interactive visualization methods.
But in order to leverage citizen science for water resources management and poverty alleviation, we identify the following major research and implementation challenges. If value and validity of citizen science continues to be poorly communicated, such ambiguity has the potential to damage the reputation of researchers, and ultimately, discourage innovation.
We suggest that, whilst it is important to remain optimistic about the potential of citizen science, limitations need to be reflected by setting realistic goals that minimize disappointment if projects fail to deliver Riesch and Potter, Even participatory approaches have a tendency to introduce bias in the participation process, which can only to some extent be used to alleviate and, if not applied properly, may reinforce this bias. Ensuring that technological applications are affordable, user friendly, reliable, compatible, and versatile will be vital for their uptake Silvertown, ; Royem et al.
However, the selection of technology, if effective, would contribute to an empowerment of local communities to take charge and deliver for themselves some solutions to particular needs Newman et al. A further consideration is that sharing data and opening up to a larger scientific audience of their local environment may cause some apprehension Seymour and Regalado, Furthermore, communication of results needs to be done carefully to avoid making impressions that can potentially become a permanent misunderstanding.
The citizen science concept clearly shows the deficiencies of the technocratic model of knowledge generation. Therefore, it is a useful environment to explore the political—as opposed to a technical-neutral—dimension. This requires a decentering and different articulation of the scientific knowledge process within the broader social process of co-creation of sufficiently shared actionable knowledge that becomes the basis of changed actions within the management of resources. Hannah led the conception and design of the paper. All authors contributed to the development of ideas and to the interdisciplinary reflection process.
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Citizens have both rights to use and responsibility for conserving, protecting and sustaining these public water resources. However, streams, rivers and lakes across the country are becoming degraded and in danger of losing their capacity to meet the needs of the human, plant and animal populations which depend on them. While many point sources of pollutants can be and have been addressed by regulation, nonpoint source pollution resulting from independent land use decisions across a broad landscape, especially in agriculture, remains a very difficult issue.
The U. Environmental Protection Agency EPA in their National Water Quality Inventory Report to Congress singles out nonpoint source pollution as one of the biggest environmental challenges of the 21st century. There is increasing evidence that persistent nonpoint source water problems can be effectively addressed when public deliberation is linked to scientific knowledge and technical expertise. The subject of this book is human social interactions. These results are intended to provide insight and practical knowledge that can be used by those who are working to bring change and long-lasting protection and improvement to U.