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Be a Citizen Scientist

Being a Citizen Scientist with PFK means that everyday people, just like you, can help protect and enhance our local native plants and animals using proven, scientific methods. You don't need to be an expert. Just some time and enthusiasm. Read on to find out more.

Citizen Science Month

To better protect our beloved native flora and fauna, we need to understand its current state and how it changes over time. We do this by monitoring different elements of biodiversity.

Citizen Science Month is a special time where volunteers in the Kaipātiki area help us collect data to understand our impact on the natural environment. You don't need to have a PhD to be involved, just an inquisitive brain and/or lots of energy! Participants in PFK’s Citizen Science Month can learn simple ways that they and their families can contribute towards science and environmental protection across the Kaipātiki Local Board area.

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When Do Activities Happen?

New monitoring campaigns will be promoted on our PFK facebook page and newsletter so keep an eye out on ways you can participate. 


The Annual PFK Chew Card Campaign usually starts in July every year.  For the 2024 survey, the volunteer window for participating is between the 12th and 22nd of July.

For details on the 2024 Citizen Science activities, read the info sheet below or please contact us.​

We are seeking two interns to join us for a three-month period to help with the Citizen Science campaign. If you are interested, please contact us for more details.

Counting Pests with the Chew Card Campaign

What on earth is a chew card?! It’s a card that is covered with a non-toxic paste (like coloured peanut butter) that is then placed in our nature reserves. Over time these cards are bitten or chewed by rats, mice, possums, hedgehogs, stoats and even other creatures like dogs and cats as they are attracted to the paste. The bites in the chew cards leave behind distinctive marks that we can identify - and then counting the number of cards bitten by the different animals gives us an idea of how many there are.

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The PFK Chew Card Campaign is our annual survey which places these chew cards along survey lines in over 43 reserves in Kaipātiki. The results from the campaign allow an in-depth look at where pest control is needed the most, or where a variety of traps is needed. It helps us track the valuable and appreciated efforts reserve volunteers and backyard trappers are contributing. 


Pest Free Kaipātiki has run the Citizen Science chew card campaign each year since 2017 and have found a clear correlation between where volunteers and/or halo backyard trappers are active - we have far fewer pest chews in a very short period of time which is great for out native biodiversity. 


Unfortunately there are plenty of other ‘hot spots’ for pests where parks have little to no protection - and need your help. We encourage you to look up your closest park and latest chew card results and ask yourself if you would be able to volunteer an hour or two per year to help protect it through trapping or baiting.


To get involved in the 2024 survey and volunteer to lay out cards and re-collect - read this year’s fact sheet and use this short form to sign up! We will get in touch via phone or email with more information in June to find something that suits your availability and interests.

You can read a short visual summary of chew card results here.

Ecological Monitoring

The Ecological Monitoring project asks the community to get involved in recording what they see and hear in the local natural environment. Previously we divided monitoring into different kinds of animals, such as aquatic, reptiles, invertebrates, birds, and plants. Now, ALL forms of life are captured under one project using a new programme - iNaturalist.

The Ecological Monitoring project began in May 2021 and will continue indefinitely. The project continues year-round to allow certain flora and fauna that are only present at certain times of the year to be found and photographed. This is especially relevant to invertebrates who are in their largest numbers during spring/summer. We also want to be able to compare the results from different years.

How Can I Be Involved?

Record any living species you find using iNaturalist - it’s quick, easy and fun! You can record absolutely anything as long as it's alive (or once was)! Plants, birds, insects, spiders, fish, fungi, lichen, and more. The life you find can be the whole organism or just part of it - alive or dead. It may be photographed or you may only be able to record the sounds it makes.

If you are student of ecology, plant biology, zoology or environmental science looking for an internship (three months), please contact us for details.

Where Should I Look?

Look in your backyard, your local reserve, while walking along a road, your place of work or study, anywhere you can find living things. Aim to record wild things (not a pet or a plant from a garden centre). The best places will be more natural places, or places with vegetation, such as your backyard, an area of bush, or a reserve - but always stay on tracks in reserves, and stay away from Kauri trees. Look around you, look under things, look behind things. Particular insects, spiders and other invertebrates could be found almost anywhere, as can many plants.


How Can I Be Part of the Wider Ecological Monitoring?

If you want to get involved with the Ecological Monitoring campaign, simply follow the Pest Free Kaipatiki - Ecological Monitoring iNaturalist project. From there, any life you take a picture of will be uploaded to our project and can be included in our monitoring data. 

​What is iNaturalist?

iNaturalist is a website and app that anyone can use to record observations of living things. With the app, you can snap a photo of something, upload it, ask the very clever auto-recognition feature to suggest what it is, then select what you think it may be. The observation is added and people around the world will see your photo and confirm or suggest the identification. Once three people back up the observation, it’s loaded into the system for the sake of science! 

It is a great way to learn about the living things around us and learn how to recognise them. All observations you photograph will stay linked to your profile, so you can always look back on what you’ve found. 


For a guide to iNaturalist, please click here.

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