Looking inward, looking outward: Citizen science in the Bras d'Or Lake Biosphere
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The Bras d‘Or Lake and watershed is a 3,566 km2 region of forest, freshwater and marine ecosystems in the centre of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. The estuary occupies 31% of the Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere and the watershed is thinly populated, with about 6 human residents per square kilometer (2006 census). The evolving Bras d’Or Watch program which is at the nexus of citizen science and public education seeks to strengthen the human-habitat bond among participants by: 1) providing a forum for citizens to interact with their place; 2) networking citizens who want to strengthen their bond with place; 3) matching residents with scientists and historians who can share their knowledge of place. The Bras d’Or Watch has a diversity of drivers and of anticipated outcomes. In the further development of the program, the goal is to blend ecosystem monitoring and observation based on connection to ‘place’ to develop an ecosystem-level synopsis (looking inward) which can be used to gauge response to aspects of global climate change (looking outward). Bras d’Or Watch is all about developing the tools to allow us to see and hear what Mother Earth is showing and telling us. This article serves to outline the early development of this program.