Alien Species are increasing worldwide and are currently present in almost every ecosystem type on Earth. The effects to human health include the spread of diseases and allergens, while to the economy there can be damage to agriculture and infrastructure. Recognising the increasingly serious problem of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) in Europe, the European Commission has recently published a dedicated Regulation on Invasive Alien Species. Implementation of this Regulation will be supported by an information system developed by the JRC, it is called European Alien Species Information Network (EASIN). Yet, it remains challenging to detect and identify Invasive Alien Species, which may occur everywhere on the European territory – which covers approximately 4.4 mission square kilometres. We therefore need your help to find and identify animals and plants that are far from home, and threaten local environments.
We therefore investigate possibilities that Citizen Science could add to the currently available knowledge base. We developed a Citizen Science demonstrator for IAS monitoring. Here, we could directly benefit from the outcomes and contributions of the MYGEOSS project. MYGEOSS offered us the possibility to develop smartphone applications, including one that enables anybody who holds a mobile device to report sightings of potential IASs in their local environment. Building on the MYGEOSS outcomes, we developed a web-based system that not only displays the citizen-collected inputs from the app, but that also sets it into the wider contexts and allows for the integration with authoritative information as provided by EASIN.
The available scientific information system demonstrates European Citizen Science at work. It integrates the data, infrastructure and services of partners within the Commission and of the European Environment Agency (EEA), together with data collected by citizen scientists. It thereby provides a basis for discussion with relevant stakeholder communities to develop a joint understanding of the opportunities and limits of using Citizen Science for selected environmental policies.