Annual citizen science event gives the public the chance to help protect local wildlife by recording the species living right on their doorsteps and in their favourite green spaces
Tuesday 16th May – Somerset Wildlife Trust is delighted to announce the return of The Big Count 2023, its Somerset-wide annual citizen science event which aims to help monitor changes in local wildlife populations by encouraging as many people as possible to take note of and record the species living in their gardens, parks, green spaces, workplaces, and communities.
The count hopes to inspire people of any age and setting to get outside and connect with nature and the county’s amazing wildlife and, at the same time, become important eyes and ears on the ground as they collect vital data about some of Somerset’s native species, in order to help inform the work that’s needed to stop further species decline.
This year, The Big Count will run from June 16th – June 25th and is supported by Southern Co-op. The public are being asked to record their wildlife sightings on the popular iNaturalist citizen science platform, and they’ll be on the lookout for 8 individual species of wildlife and 4 species groups, which includes goldfinch, dragonflies, spiders, and several species of butterfly. This is an activity for everyone to get involved in, whether family, friends, neighbours, schools, social groups, scout groups, or congregations. Participants will be able to see their sightings on the iNaturalist map immediately, and there is a FREE downloadable pack which explains everything that people need to know, which can be found on the Somerset Wildlife Trust website.
The Big Count is part of the Trust’s Great Somerset Wildlife Count initiative, a joint venture between Somerset Wildlife Trust and the Somerset Environmental Records Centre (SERC). SERC holds over 2.5 million records of species present in Somerset, but there are gaps in its knowledge, especially when it comes to more ‘common’ species, and it hopes that running The Big Count 2023 will help fill those gaps and in turn provide important information about the health of the ecosystems that exist to support them, ensuring county-led decisions are being made with wildlife in mind.
Simon Clarke, Head of Nature Recovery at Somerset Wildlife Trust, says, “We were so pleased at how many people got involved last year. We were able to add nearly 1,000 species records during The Big Count 2022, which is an amazing effort. We want to do even better this year, so we hope that even more people will come on board. It’s a great way for people to get out and nurture a nature connection, and it’s something really simple that really can make a difference. When it comes to records, it’s quite literally a numbers game, so we need as many people taking part as possible — we can’t do this without the public behind The Big Count, so we want everyone to spread the word.”
Gemma Lacey, Southern Co-op’s Director for Sustainability and Communications, says, “This is such a fun and simple way to get involved in your local wildlife and it can introduce you to nature on your doorstep.
“Somerset Wildlife Trust has identified a real gap in our knowledge about how the more ‘common’ species of wildlife are doing on a wider scale — so it’s time for us all to step up and help so they can make the best decisions for nature’s recovery.”
How to get involved:
- Go to www.somersetwildlife.org/bigcount2023 and download your FREE digital pack.
- Create an iNaturalist account at www.inaturalist.org or download either the iNaturalist or Seek app.
- Get counting! Do as many counts as you can in different places and encourage as many people as you can to do the same.
- That’s it — you’ve just contributed important data to wildlife trends in Somerset!
Don’t forget to tag @SomersetWT and @somersetERC in any social media updates, and use the hashtag #BigCount2023!