On Sunday I’m off on my fourth trip to Lord Howe Island World Heritage Area. I thought I wouldn’t go again after my third trip – there are too many other places to explore – but when a citizen science trip came on my radar, I couldn’t resist. It’s in conjunction with the Australian Geographic Society and the Australian National Insect Collection at CSIRO.
The Pinetrees (the lodge where I’m staying) website says:
The Australian Geographic Expedition is for ‘citizen scientists’ to work with scientists from Australian Geographic, the CSIRO and the Lord Howe Island Board. With expert support, people with a good level of fitness (i.e walk 5 km in 1.5 hours and be steady footed in steep mountain terrain) and interest in conservation (i.e. you don’t need any scientific training!) can help discover insect species, which are thought to be extinct, or close to extinct. Many species remain undescribed or unrecorded since 1978, so the expedition stands to make a significant contribution to conservation on Lord Howe Island.
You don’t need any special expertise to go on citizen science trips – just enthusiasm and the ability to pay the money. You pay your own way to get there; food, accommodation and a donation to the research are included in the fee. It’s great to get a different view from what you’d experience as a ‘normal’ tourist and meet like-minded people, too.
Earthwatch is another volunteer organisation that can take you worldwide as well as in Australia, and covers a lot of research areas. Curious Traveller took me to Tassie earlier in the year to help with Tassie devil research, and will take me in November to Maria Island in Tassie to help with hooded plover research (there are still places available on that one if you’re interested).
On Lord Howe, we’ll be out in the forest every day collecting insects. The one with the most media coverage is probably the ‘land lobster’, which I wrote about here. If you click on ‘Lord Howe Island’ in the tag cloud at right, you’ll find my other posts on Lord Howe. Much of each afternoon will be free time, so I’ll be off to the museum, or snorkelling with the turtles, or taking photos of critters in rock pools, or walking the beaches, or sipping a beer at the bar, or …
I’ll really looking forward to this trip and I’ll tell you all about it after I get back!