Contract Number: 6463
Research     European Commission 
EU-wide monitoring methods and systems of surveillance for species and habitats of Community interest

Halt the loss of
by 2020

Program count:  414
Scheme count:  649
Species:  472
Habitats:  177
 Input history
Volunteering in biodiversity monitoring

On this page you will find information, guidelines, and databases relating to the involvement of volunteers in biodiversity monitoring. Volunteer involvement in biodiversity monitoring most frequently takes place within different types of organisations, which we refer to collectively as Participatory Monitoring Networks (PMNs). The content of this part of the biodiversity monitoring portal consists of:
  • Key principles for successful volunteer involvement in biodiversity monitoring;
  • Extensive results of our research into PMNs can be found in the Deliverables and other Output cross-referenced at the end of this page;
  • A database has been developed to enumerate and characterise PMNs in Europe. You will find a List of PMNs in Europe that contributed to the database and to the research on volunteers in biodiversity monitoring. If you click on Overview graphs & tables (link to the page with this heading on the EuMon portal) you will get an overview of their activities and organisational features. We owe great thanks to these PMNs for their cooperation. If you would like to add your organisation to the database, please go to Describe your PMN. Your organisation will be added automatically to the list and the graphs and tables will be updated to include the information provided by you. Many thanks for your contributions!
Key principles for successful volunteer involvement

Monitoring of species and habitat requires the participation of large numbers of people that far outstrip the capacity of professional scientists. There is a great deal of variation in the amount and types of volunteer monitoring and the organisations in which it takes place. We define these organisations as Participatory Monitoring Networks, a broad term that includes a host of different arrangements and involves collaboration between a range of nature specialists, both professional and amateur.

Our research reveals six predominant factors that influence the effectiveness and the sustainability of PMNs

  • Socio-political background influences levels of participation. This accounts for variation in the spread of PMNs in Europe. Post-communist countries may experience a deficit in PMNs because of historical impediments to the development of an overall ethos of civic voluntarism.
  • Different strategies are needed for recruitment and retention of volunteers. PMNs need to balance the degree of effort needed to bring in new contributors with the effort required to retain existing volunteers. Good communication in the form of interpersonal interactions is a key attribute of vibrant PMNs.
  • Volunteers should be kept informed about how the data that they collect is used. Biological records collected by amateur volunteers are personalised to some degree, because they hold unique meanings. PMNs need to inform volunteers about the fate of their data and consult with them over decisions relating to that data.
  • Several factors motivate volunteers. The motivations of volunteers involve a combination of wanting to learn, passion for nature, and the desire to be with other like-minded people. PMNs need to cater for the combination of these factors.
  • Careful consideration for relations between professional and amateurs. While professionalization can benefit certain types of PMNs, potential negative effects need to be acknowledged and managed to create a balanced relationship between professional and volunteers so that neither category of people feel undervalued or isolated.
  • Collaboration with other PMNs adds value to monitoring. Collaboration with other organisations has many benefits, particularly in terms of efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Deliverables and other Output

You will find more detailed recommendations and project results in the following Deliverables and other EuMon products:

Deliverable 24 - Cross-cultural recommendations for operational approaches in participatory monitoring networks to assess the 2010 target

EuMon policy brief No 1:
People Count Too - key issues for success in recruiting and retaining volunteers for biodiversity monitoring

Other products:


Job opportunities
Presentations of EuMon

About the database
Login / Registration
Browse the schemes
Create overview graphs

Volunteering in biodiversity monitoring
List of PMNs in Europe
Overview graphs & tables
Describe your PMN

About National Responsibilities & Conservation Priorities
Natura 2000

Policy briefs
BioMat - Tool for developing and comparing monitoring schemes