Citizen Scientists Provide Critical Data

On the eve of the Summit of the Americas Climate Change Conference being held in Toronto from July 7th to July 9th, the Association for Canadian Educational Resources (ACER) released its data on the amount of carbon sequestered by its Humber Arboretum Go-Global Plot, one of its 19 monitoring plots across Ontario. A summary of the data is available on the ACER website.

ACER has been using trained volunteers—citizen scientists—to monitor one-hectare forest plots since the 1992 Rio De Janeiro Biodiversity Convention. It uses the protocols designed by the Smithsonian Institution as a result of the same biodiversity convention.

“The Humber plot contains 18 species of trees with an average DBH (Diameter at Breast Height) of 18 centimetres,” says award-winning science teacher and ACER’s Founding President, Alice Casselman, “609 trees were measured.”

“As of 2013, these trees in this one-hectare plot had stored 100 tons of carbon. One hectare is one hundred metres by one hundred metres.”

Trees absorb carbon dioxide to make wood, reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and thus reducing the most abundant greenhouse gas.

“Having citizen scientists measuring what’s happening in forest areas close to where they live provides us with the essential ground-truth data we need to fully understand where we, as a species, actually stand in relation to climate change and how it is affecting our own communities,” she added.

ACER citizen scientists also measure total height and compass bearing, crown area, crown depth, health status, location by triangulation, and identification. The resulting data is available on the ACER website for researchers, students, community groups or anyone else interested in determining changes in their neighbourhood or town.

The Association for Canadian Educational Resources is a 27-year-old charitable organization that has been training citizen scientists to monitor climate change for 18 years. For more information go to the ACER website.

The Summit of the Americas Climate Change Conference is hosted by the Government of Ontario and is bringing together selected indigenous leaders, environment groups and industry heads to work towards reduction of greenhouse gases. Participation is by invitation only. For more information go to the Conference website.

For more information, call Alice Casselman, (905) 601-7685

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