Coronavirus lockdown wildlife recordings appeal

Mark Kinver - Environment reporter

Scientists want people to send them their wildlife experiences under the coronavirus lockdown.

They are keen to hear recordings of dawn choruses, animals in unusual places, and views of the night sky without pollution.

The Earth Project is a global citizen science study co-ordinated by scientists across UK universities.

It hopes to showcase how nature has capitalised on reduced human activity during the pandemic.

The researchers want the public to help them capture a global representation of what we experienced on the ground during lockdown.

"We are hoping to create a useful shared library of baseline experiences for the public, reminding us in the future of what life and our relationship with nature could be when global public mobility and many pollution-generating activities are reduced," explained Phil Manning from the University of Manchester.

The team acknowledges that "significant sacrifices" will have to be made by everyone in order to reduce our impact on the planet's climate system, and to move towards the sustainable use of the Earth's natural resources.

It is hoped that the positive experiences many people had with nature during lockdown, and the recollection of those experiences, will help build the case for behaviour changes to help shift us towards sustainability.

Sights and sounds

During the lockdown, wildlife reclaiming the streets of towns and cities during lockdown have made headlines around the world. For example, goats that normally keep themselves to themselves in the hills surrounding Llandudno, Wales, ventured into the town's deserted streets.

People have also reported that they have been able to hear birdsong more clearly without the constant hum of traffic.

During lockdown, people have had more time to connect with the natural world around them

The submissions will be collated by the Earth Project team, which consists of concerned citizens alongside scientists from multiple UK universities, including Bangor, Belfast, Durham, Manchester and Plymouth.

Prof Manning told BBC News that the recordings of birdsong, night skies and nature calls will be made available online for everyone to enjoy and to relive the better moments of life under lockdown.

"The survey results will help provide an overview of people's observations and thoughts on the environment before, during and after lockdown," he observed.

"The responses will be analysed and summarised and then made available along with the database on our website during the late Summer and Autumn of 2020."

He said that it was hoped that the findings of the survey could encourage behaviour change and help shape policies and strategies that could deliver greener and sustainable lifestyles.

Historic snapshot

"The Earth Project… has the potential to provide a snapshot of what happened to the environment and wildlife when human activity is drastically reduced or simply managed in a more sustainable way," Prof Manning said.

As part of the project's survey, it will ask people whether they are willing to make changes to their behaviour to help improve the world around them.

Prof Manning added: "This information will be evaluated in our inclusive Earth Project think-tank and, hopefully, this could impact future behaviour and guide those who make policy decisions.

"The Earth Project has the potential to help catalyse humankind to a sustainable future."

You can access the Earth Project -Live website here.