The increasing loss of biodiversity can be attributed to the influence of human beings on the world’s ecosystems. The EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy foresees various actions with the aim of halting the loss of biodiversity, conserving and restoring natural habitats, and maintaining and enhancing ecosystems and their services. This strategy requires the cooperation and the engagement of citizens and the launch of ‘citizen science initiatives’. These initiatives have a strong potential for the gathering and interpretation of scientific data, the dissemination of scientific information among the general public, and the active involvement of people in the defense of biodiversity. Today, the main challenge of citizen science is the collection of environmental data of high scientific quality. Policy makers require information systems based on the latest information and communication technology (ICT), which can provide real-time biodiversity data on which to base strategic decisions. GMES, the European Union contribution to the global observation system of systems (GEOSS) and its biodiversity section GEO BON, as well as the shared environmental information system (SEIS), aim at fulfilling such a need.
The CSMON-LIFE project aims at contributing to a new strategic approach, by enlarging and improving the knowledge base for biodiversity policies in Italy, one of the EU countries with the highest biodiversity. This goal will be achieved by involving citizens in data collection and validation, thus accelerating the progress towards the objectives of the European 2020 Biodiversity Strategy, and contributing to the formation of new “green” jobs. The project will promote active collaboration among scientists, public administrations and citizens in discovering, monitoring and protecting biodiversity, thus providing a further contribution to the needs of policy makers. The project will make use of ICT, such as smartphone and tablets, to collect geo-referenced and validated biodiversity data, which will be integrated into the databases of the Italian national biodiversity network. The activities and results will be actively disseminated to local, national and EU administrations, scientific organisations and stakeholder groups.