Support and participation from people in the community undeniably contribute to the success of projects and initiatives centering on biodiversity conservation. Enjoining every community and individual to participate in scientific activities, citizen science is a great opportunity to maximize the untapped and indigenous human resource in the country.

Citizen science, as defined by the National Geographic, “is the practice of public participation and collaboration in scientific research to increase scientific knowledge.” Simply put, people who are not scientists per se adds value to scientific research by contributing data from the field as well as monitoring progress in the communities involved. Although the concept ‘citizen science’ may not seemed as much of a buzzword, it has long been practiced not only in biodiversity conservation initiatives but also in other scientific endeavors.

Following on the success of the Biodiversity Monitoring System and the success of LAWIN Forest and Biodiversity Protection System, CCIPH developed and launched the Biodiversity Monitoring App or BioMon. BioMon is a simpler, more intuitive and integrated data-capture and data-analytics mobile application designed to support biodiversity monitoring programs of NGOs and community groups.

CCIPH conceptualized and developed BioMon to address the mismatch between the data and information on protected area zonation regimes relative to the conservation needs of critical species. Monitoring the effects of management practices within key biodiversity areas and protected areas has been challenging. There is scarcity of data brought about by the time lag between collecting manual and paper-based data from the field.

BioMon is highly user-friendly as one can expect ease in capturing field data and real-time data analytics. Useful data on wildlife species, types of threats, habitat, and pertinent photos will be uploaded to the respective database of participating civil society organizations managed by themselves. Depending on the sensitivity of the data and the readiness and willingness of the participating organization to share information, these individual data holdings will all be aggregated into one main database. The technology to be used will be improved over time, tailor-fitting the system to the individual needs and capacities of participating organizations. This is to recognize and utilize the body of knowledge that CSOs will generate through the BioMon.

This collaborative management approach is already enshrined in the Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan and the Philippines Protected Areas Master Plan (NBSAP). In the next five years, CCIPH envisions a network of effectively managed PAs and OECMs supported by a network of active biodiversity monitors both from government and civil society. This network will emerge to deliver the biodiversity targets crafted and agreed upon in the Philippine NBSAP. Specifically, for the Philippines to meet the biodiversity coverage and management effectiveness elements of Aichi Targets 11 and 12.

With the rise of various platforms, people nowadays can easily and instantly share details about their lives among friends, colleagues, and families through their uploaded photos and videos. Basically, this is the principle behind BioMon: real-time data sharing that will benefit different organizations. As a staunch advocate of citizen science, CCIPH believes that accessible and user-friendly technologies will encourage more individuals and communities to participate in biodiversity conservation endeavors. Moreover, accurate and up-to-date data will be critical in the policy development and effective management of KBAs and PAs.