Guest post: Track a Tree and the citizen science experience

Christine Tansey's picture

Today we have a guest post from Ria Dunkley, from the University of Cardiff. I met Ria at one of the Track a Tree workshops earlier this year, and we have since chatted several times about Track a Tree. Ria is starting some research on citizen science and would like to use Track a Tree as a case study, so we'd like to invite any of our volunteers to take part in her work. Read on to find out more...

Exploring the citizen science experience - Dr Ria Dunkley

Environmental citizen science projects enable the public to contribute to scientific endeavours in a variety of ways. Public involvement in citizen science is enormously beneficial to scientific endeavour and it is thought that volunteers gain a great from the experiences too.

I am a researcher, based at the Sustainable Places Research Institute at Cardiff University who has been interested in the experiences of citizen scientist volunteers for some time. I have just begun a new research project that hopes to find out what motivates people to volunteer with citizen science projects. I’d also like to explore what being involved in citizen science projects means to the people who take part.

I chose Track a Tree as one of my case studies for this research, after meeting Christine from Track a Tree a few times in the past year. It sounded like a great project that was very interesting because asks people to track trees, often near to where they live, over an extended period to gain insights into climate change. From speaking to Christine, it became clear that people became involved in Track a Tree for a variety of reasons.

I have been a researcher at Cardiff University since 2011 and before this time was an education researcher at the Eden Project Cornwall. In my research, I explore the fascinating topic of how people are connected to their surroundings, but I am driven by a desire to see change in relation to biodiversity loss and other environmental issues. As an environmental education researcher therefore, I am always seeking insights into whether experiencing the outdoors nurtures environmental awareness and influences how people feel about the environment. I seek to explore whether being in nature influences how we act and whether it encourages us to behave in more sustainable ways, or get involved in supporting initiatives that prioritise the environment.

Currently, I am looking for people taking part in citizen science projects to interview as part of my research. This interview would be informal, as a conversation really, and would be conducted at a time and place most convenient to you. If you would be happy to give up an hour or so of your time for a conversation, please get in touch.

Also, if you have any questions, or would like further information, please don’t hesitate to contact me. It doesn’t matter how long you have participated for, nor how regularly you participate. Please get in touch with me by email, post or telephone. I would be delighted to speak to you.

Contact details:

Ria Dunkley (Research Associate)

Sustainable Places Research Institute

Cardiff University,

33 Park Place,




Tel: 029 208 75726



                                     Ria, left, at our Track a Tree workshop