An Taisce and EPA launch new citizen science project

Published by Lia Flattery on

September 28th, 2017

A new international citizen science programme for schools has been launched by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and An Taisce.

Laura Burke, Director General of the EPA, announced the new programme – Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) – at the annual Environment Ireland conference today.

GLOBE is an international science and education programme that aims to help students, teachers and scientists to better understand and protect the natural environment.

The EPA and An Taisce will work together to implement the programme in schools across Ireland.

Since its establishment in 1995, over 29,000 schools in 117 countries have taken part in the programme and schools have added nearly 140 million measurements to the GLOBE science database.

The GLOBE programme in Ireland will initially focus on air quality and will be piloted in a number of primary and secondary schools in both urban and rural areas.

According to Ms Burke, the EPA wants to encourage community engagement and to provide the necessary supports to empower citizens to become more aware of and engaged with issues of environmental sustainability.

She explained that the EPA plans to build on its “strong track record in providing good quality and reliable” environmental information and that the agency is working to make this information “interesting and relevant to the public”.

As part of this, she said that one of the EPA’s main priorities over the next few years will be advancing citizen science initiatives in relation to air quality, water quality and sustainable behaviours.

“We see significant opportunities and benefits in closing the loop where the very citizens to whom we have been delivering information become active participants in co-creating environmental data, particularly within their local communities,” she added.

Ms Burke highlighted the importance of environmental work and protection at local level in improving the overall state of the environment in Ireland.

“We all own the environment and have a responsibility for its care and protection: after all, our health, our wellbeing, our economy, our very culture depends on it,” she said.

Michael-John O’Mahony, Director of An Taisce’s Environmental Education Unit, commented that the organisation is “delighted” to introduce the GLOBE programme to Ireland in collaboration with the EPA.

“GLOBE will give teachers and students across Ireland the skills, training and support to engage in meaningful scientific investigations about their local environment and to put this in a global perspective,” he said.

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Lia Flattery

Lía is a former writer and Deputy Editor at Trinity News. She also has a BA in History and English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.