Birdwatching with a Purpose in Turkey KuşBank An Internet Based Bird Database and Citizen Science Project


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Özesmi U., Per E.

Bird Census News, vol.1, no.19, pp.16-33, 2006 (Refereed Journals of Other Institutions)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 1 Issue: 19
  • Publication Date: 2006
  • Title of Journal : Bird Census News
  • Page Numbers: pp.16-33

Abstract

Introduction Six years ago, in spirit with Saint-Exupeıy our goal was not to foresee or design the future of birdwatching and conservation in Turkey, but to enable the growth of a conservation-minded birdwatching community. As any community, the birdwatching community acquires specific characteristics based on initial conditions and subsequent historical developments. The birdıvatching community in Turkey can therefore be defîned as an institution "a group of people who come together with specific interests and goals and behave within formal or informal rules and a frame that is socially acceptable" (Ostrom, 1996). Birdwatchers ali around the world share an interest towards birds, but how they express that interest is as diverse as finches on the Galapagos. Let us first define the current institutional structure of the Turkish birdwatching community and then outline how KuşBank - an internet based Citizen Science project for bird conservation - has contributed to build capacity and strengthen the existing institutional structure towards conservation-minded birdwatching. The Turkish birdwatching community has göne through a rapid growth from only about 20 people in 1990 to about 1000 in 2006. But when we projected this increase in 2000 it was also a cause of anxiety. Because if the community would have not found ways to sustain the enthusiasm and the conservation orientation, the institutional evolution could have lead to a direction that values birdwatching for personal enjoyment and listing (twitching) only. Through the institutional structures built and maintained we ended up with a birdıvatching culture that believes in birding with a purpose and primarily values conservation of birds and their habitat. Institutional analysis The institutional analyses show that birdwatchers in Turkey are organized through: 1. an internet based email group called Toygar, 2. an internet site called KuşTR, 3. a regular bulletin edited and distributed to ali the birdwatchers by Doğa Derneği, 4. National Birdwatching Conferences and regular community birdwatching. 5. an internet based database called - KuşBank. Toygar, an internet based email list: Toygar is an email group (listserver) that works under the platform of Yahoogroups (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/toygar). Emails sent to Toygar by its members are distributed to ali other members. The birdwatching community is not new to listservers. Between 1995 and 1999, there was a birdwatching listserver on the Computer system of Middle East Technical University but the number of its members never exceeded 20-30. Founded in September 1999, Toygar has more than 10 emails per day and has 580 members. By June 2006, 15000 messages were sent to Toygar. While in 2000 one email per day was data and counts from a birdwatching trip today there are on average 5 emails coming via KuşBank, which shows a five fold increase in total reporting. Other mails include photo or sound quizzes, questions and notices about birds, organizing activities, and conservation problems. Toygar över time has taken on the role of the publiceye on submitted bird records to KuşBank. Unusual records are questioned without being offensive, and participants are able to take criticism without being defensive. Those unwritten rules are generally accepted. Toygar has become a respectable, productive and enjoyable environment for information exchange among birdwatchers. Also “Lark” a parallel yahoogroup has been established for English speaking expatriate Birdwatchers in Turkey. KuşTR - www.kustr.org This website mostly operates as a living bulletin. At this website bird watchers can learn what is happening in the birdwatching community, theIntroduction Six years ago, in spirit with Saint-Exupeıy our goal was not to foresee or design the future of birdwatching and conservation in Turkey, but to enable the growth of a conservation-minded birdwatching community. As any community, the birdwatching community acquires specific characteristics based on initial conditions and subsequent historical developments. The birdıvatching community in Turkey can therefore be defîned as an institution "a group of people who come together with specific interests and goals and behave within formal or informal rules and a frame that is socially acceptable" (Ostrom, 1996). Birdwatchers ali around the world share an interest towards birds, but how they express that interest is as diverse as finches on the Galapagos. Let us first define the current institutional structure of the Turkish birdwatching community and then outline how KuşBank - an internet based Citizen Science project for bird conservation - has contributed to build capacity and strengthen the existing institutional structure towards conservation-minded birdwatching. The Turkish birdwatching community has göne through a rapid growth from only about 20 people in 1990 to about 1000 in 2006. But when we projected this increase in 2000 it was also a cause of anxiety. Because if the community would have not found ways to sustain the enthusiasm and the conservation orientation, the institutional evolution could have lead to a direction that values birdwatching for personal enjoyment and listing (twitching) only. Through the institutional structures built and maintained we ended up with a birdıvatching culture Introduction Six years ago, in spirit with Saint-Exupeıy our goal was not to foresee or design the future of birdwatching and conservation in Turkey, but to enable the growth of a conservation-minded birdwatching community. As any community, the birdwatching community acquires specific characteristics based on initial conditions and subsequent historical developments. The birdıvatching community in Turkey can therefore be defîned as an institution "a group of people who come together with specific interests and goals and behave within formal or informal rules and a frame that is socially acceptable" (Ostrom, 1996). Birdwatchers ali around the world share an interest towards birds, but how they express that interest is as diverse as finches on the Galapagos. Let us first define the current institutional structure of the Turkish birdwatching community and then outline how KuşBank - an internet based Citizen Science project for bird conservation - has contributed to build capacity and strengthen the existing institutional structure towards conservation-minded birdwatching. The Turkish birdwatching community has göne through a rapid growth from only about 20 people in 1990 to about 1000 in 2006. But when we projected this increase in 2000 it was also a cause of anxiety. Because if the community would have not found ways to sustain the enthusiasm and the conservation orientation, the institutional evolution could have lead to a direction that values birdwatching for personal enjoyment and listing (twitching) only. Through the institutional structures built and maintained we ended up with a birdıvatching culture