Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the aim of the project was to get local communities and visitors to the area to collect data over a long period of time to help understand how moorlands and the species they support are responding to climate change. This provided valuable information about the impacts of climate change but also engaged people, with varying levels of previous experience and time to commit, with the natural environment and raise awareness of potential threats to it.
SEI was involved in developing survey protocols and supporting materials for three strands of monitoring. Firstly, for volunteers who have a lot of time to commit to the project, we established fixed sites which can be visited repeatedly over many years to collect data on environmental variables and which might be affected by a changing climate, such as soil moisture, peat depth and water table depth.
The second strand of monitoring examined species’ responses to climate change and was, again, for people who are willing to commit time to surveying and who were trained in specific monitoring techniques. The aim was to introduce a new survey focused on a different species or species group every year for a number of years, which have been selected because they are likely to be affected by climate change. For example, a bumblebee transect survey was developed and data collected from this was used to examine whether the abundance of bumblebees is altering and whether climate is a factor affecting this.
The final strand of monitoring was focused on collecting information about species’ responses to climate change and was aimed at people with less time to spare or visitors to the area. For example, a postcard survey of three bird species was launched. People could pick up a postcard from a Visitor Centre which had information about the species and then filled in the details of if, when and where they saw these species. They then posted the postcard back or entered the information on the online recording system we developed. This gave us information on whether the distribution of species or the timing of events, such as the arrival of migratory species, is changing and whether this is linked to changes in the climate.
For more information about the project, please visit: www.moorsforthefuture.org.uk/community-science