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Explore and observe the environment

Each of us observes our environment. Some watch the sparrows in the trees while others monitor the weather, while others save their sea ice observations in a mobile app. There are many different ways. At its best, observing the environment can be both a fun leisure activity and an important help to researchers!
Nuori kiikaroi luonnossa.
© Adobe Stock

For many, exploring the environment can simply be a beloved hobby that provides experiences of success and learning – alone or together with others. When you move in the environment, you can feel a sense of togetherness with nature. Technical experiments and systems related to measurement can also inspire observation. For example, for a cottage owner, monitoring the lake's visibility depth can bring a sense of control over the condition of their own nearby body of water. If there are worrying signs, a rapid response may be of paramount importance for the well-being of the water body. Similarly, the recovery of a water body in poor condition can be exciting to monitor based on personal observations.

Public observations help researchers monitor the state of the environment

Observing the environment can also be important for the society. Citizen observations are data collected by crowdsourcing. In this context, crowdsourcing usually means that researchers ask volunteers to collect observations on a specific issue to be monitored, such as rainfall. These observations may then be used to supplement other measurements, calibrate satellite interpretations, or produce information on human experience.

There are a number of studies and projects that make use of citizens’ observations. For instance, the environmental administration's HELMI conservation project has utilised observations made by citizens. Photographs and notes uploaded by ordinary people have been used to monitor the status of springs.

How to make citizen observations

Select an object that interests you

The more motivated you are, the more effectively you can observe.

Make clear to yourself what kind of observations are needed in concrete terms.

Citizens’ observations are not rocket science, but it is essential to understand what the requirements are for observations.

Take your time when observing – nature can surprise and fascinate you!

It is nice to explore nature in peace, and observation should not be done in a hurry anyway, so that you do not for instance make measuring errors.

Record your data as accurately and clearly as possible.

This is useful for yourself as well as for others who look at your observations.

A young person using binoculars in nature.
© Adobe Stock

Take part in the collection of citizens' observations

Learn more about different types of observation

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Finnish Environment Institute (Syke)