Citizen science is the practice of public participation and collaboration in scientific research to increase scientific knowledge.
“This is a great project for all ages and a way to help further the study of the Ash Muskoka project. Already, the response has been great with 30 kits off to citizen scientists,” says Katie Paroschy, citizen science coordinator for Friends of the Muskoka Watershed. “The goal is to have people from all across Muskoka to participate so please contact me to learn more.”
It’s not too complicated. All you need is two similar-sized, same species of local trees and be willing to take a few measurements and spread some wood ash. Of course, as a scientist, you need to report your data back to the Friends three times over the next year. In return you receive a bucket of ash, a trowel, measuring tool, a tree guide, and a set of instructions.
“We’ve had such great support with people donating their household wood ash,” says Ash Muskoka project director Tim Kearney. “We knew we could find participants for our citizen science project too.”
Friends of the Muskoka Watershed, with past support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation along with university, community and government partners and thousands of volunteers have spread over 9.2 tonnes of wood ash in Muskoka forests and the results are in!
“The application of clean residential wood ash to forests appears to have woken up the trees,” says Paroschy. Participants are to compare two trees, a test with ash spread around it and another with no ash.
“These results suggest that regulated wood ash application may not only lead to more delicious maple syrup but can cause trees to absorb more carbon and water, assisting in the fight against climate change, and help with flood mitigation,” she says. “It’s very exciting. We can’t wait to see what we can learn thanks to our citizen scientists.”
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