Birds and People No.28 December 2010
The role of birds as environmental indicators is well-known – they are charismatic and conspicuous, and many are easy to identify, making them ideal candidates for monitoring. Bird-rich areas have been found to be rich in biodiversity, so birds are a good proxy for other organisms too. Now you couple these factors with a cadre of amateur (but competent) birdwatchers, and you have a recipe for an early warning system that can contribute directly to human wellbeing. It is our aim at BirdLife Botswana to establish a network of ‘citizen scientists’ who will participate in Bird Population Monitoring and Waterbird Counts that will provide information on the threats to biodiversity posed by - among other things - land-use changes and pollution (including the use of pesticides). These citizens will not just view their participation in scientific monitoring as a hobby, but as a vital contribution to piecing together the jigsaw puzzle of biodiversity conservation. They will understand that the data they provide – no matter how small or seemingly isolated – will directly influence recommendations to government regarding environmental policy and actions. Their participation will ultimately improve the quality of life for everyone in Botswana by improving the health of the environment. This editorial is a ‘call to arms’ to all those who are interested in joining us in this quest for a better world – contact your nearest BirdLife Botswana branch now!