10 ways to get involved with citizen science

You don't need to be an expert to make scientific discoveries - these citizen science projects in the UK have ways for everyone to join in.

small girl in pink dress standing in a field looking through binoculars

This British Science Week we’re sharing 10 projects you can get involved with, supporting scientific discoveries in UK biodiversity.  

Join a network of thousands of citizen scientists from the comfort of your own garden or on your way to work, and learn new wonderful things about wildlife.

What is citizen science? 

Citizen science projects bring together scientists and public volunteers, to collect data. These projects are invaluable in conservation, making it possible to collect information that scientists alone would be unable to access. 

As well as helping advance research projects, becoming a citizen scientist is an amazing way to learn about plants and wildlife.


10 projects to get involved with citizen science

1. Nature’s Calendar

girl photographing snowdrop flowers with her phone


Does climate change affect timings in nature? What effect has recent weather had on wildlife? The Woodland Trust’s citizen science project, Nature’s Calendar, is all about tracking the effects of weather and climate change on wildlife.  

By joining Nature’s Calendar, you can contribute to a biological record dating back to 1736.  
When? All year round.  

How? Choose locations that you visit regularly where you can monitor one or more of your chosen species. Perhaps it’s a hawthorn tree that you walk past on your way to work, or the birds in your garden.  

Join Nature’s Calendar 


2. National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS)

colourful meadow with daisies in the spring


While the popularity of citizen science projects is growing, plants have been left behind. The NPMS aims to survey abundance and diversity of plant species, the foundation of all our ecosystems, across different habitats in the UK. This helps us to understand the health of these habitats. 

When? All year round.  

How? You will be randomly allocated a 1km square to visit near where you live, where you can record plant ‘indicator species’ in small plots.

Log plant species with NPMS  


3. Why do sheep eat ivy?

A sheep eating ivy


What remains of Britain and Ireland's veterinary traditions? Knowledge of how plants and fungi were (or are) used to treat animal illness in Britain and Ireland is disappearing. Dr William Milliken is researching how recovering traditional knowledge could help animal health and the wider environment. 

When? All year round.

How? Contribute your knowledge on the use of plants to treat animals.

Support Kew by registering plants you've used to treat animals


4. Nature Overheard

blue forget-me-not next to a red and black soldier beetle on concrete


Ever wondered how a noisy road might affect the way insects communicate? The Natural History Museum is collecting data to better understand this through the Nature Overheard survey.  

When? Spring through to Autumn. Best time of day: between 10am – 4pm 

How? Pick an area beside a road and record audio for 5 minutes. Then write down any insects that you observe.

Start listening! 


 5. Flower-Insect Timed Counts 

bee flying toward cherry blossom blue sky in background


Flower-Insect Timed Counts (FITs) take ten minutes and can be done anywhere, including gardens and parks. It is a simple survey part of The UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme (PoMS) that collects data on the total number of insects that visit a particular flower.  

When? 1 April to 30 September each year. 

How? Spend ten minutes watching flowers and insects in good in warm, dry weather during daylight hours! 

 Start watching for insects


6. The Big Butterfly Count

A silver-studded blue butterfly (Plebejus argus) rests atop some tall grasses


Run by Butterfly Conservation, The Big Butterfly Count asks people across the UK to count the amount and type of butterflies (and some day-flying moths) they see, to help assess the health of our environment. 

When? July- August. 

How? Download Butterfly Conservation’s free identification guide and choose a place to spot butterflies and moths. Watch for 15 minutes and record which species you see.  

Start counting butterflies! 


7. Bee Walk

A bee sitting on a purple flower petal


This bumblebee-monitoring project lead by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust encourages you to learn how to identify bumblebees. 

When? March – October.  

How? Take a walk along a route once a month and record online which bumblebees you see. 

Bee Walking 


8. Big Garden Bird Watch

blue tit bird sitting on a blossoming hawthorn branch


Take the opportunity to learn to recognise more UK bird species by joining in with the RSPB’s Big Garden Bird Watch. 185 million birds have been counted in total since 1979! 

When? Three days in January each year. 

How? Relax in your own garden and count how many birds visit you.  

Find out about the Big Garden Bird Watch 


9. PondNet Spawn Survey

frog swimming through frog spawn


The Freshwater Habitats Trust is on a mission to map amphibian breeding activity across the UK. It’s easy to take part in the PondNet Spawn Survey and help them!   

When? December to May.

How? Log your sightings of Common Frog and Common Toad spawn to help us learn more about amphibian breeding activity across the UK. 

Help map our amphibians 


10. Shoresearch

limpets and barnacles on a rock


A chance to learn about the wildlife of our valuable intertidal shore habitats and explore your local coast. 

Our sea life is fragile, and you could help scientists better understand the effects of pollution, climate change and invasive alien species.  

When? All year round.

How? Get trained to identify and record the wildlife on shores across the UK. Contact your local Wildlife Trust to get involved.  

Help monitor our sea life 


Noticing Nature at Wakehurst

You can take part in a new wellbeing study at Wakehurst, as part of Nature Unlocked, to help research which habitats provide the most benefits to us and our planet.

spring border blue and green plants Wakehurst in Spring. © RGB Kew.

Other ways to get involved with nature


Going wild for wellbeing

| By Chloe Agar and and Robin Moran

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