Importance of active citizen participation for biodiversity conservation

21st February 2022

Importance of active citizen participation for biodiversity conservation

Defense Association of Paul de Tornada – PATO is a non-governmental organization that protects the environment. It was funded in October 1988 and it has been recognized as a public utility entity since May 2021.

Throughout the years, PATO has been working towards the ecologic conservation and recovery of Paul de Tornada, trough searching for allies amongst the local population, raising awareness, and making the local, national and international authorities aware of this problem.

PATO’S measures to educate and sensitize the public have been crucial for the institution, prioritizing contact with nature and direct actions with people, including schools. We dedicate part of our resources to ecological and sustainable studies to characterize and count the specie in Paul de tornada park and other natural parks in the region.

We promote a variety of different activities developed to educate citizens, using a process that aims to bring attention and inform about the urgency to change behaviors and attitude towards environment problems. These activities consist of different ways of action that aim to reach the goals of the Sustainable Development Goals, more specifically Goal 4: quality education, Goal 12: responsible consumption and production, Goal 13: climate action and Goal 5: life on Earth. This allows us to integrate with the economic, social and environmental activities of the region.

We focus our actions in proximity with all citizens: communities, autarchies, schools, companies and other NGO, once we believe that when working as a partnership, we will be able to improve more effectively their involvement and interest in environmental topics. One of the ways that PATO comes into action is through the involvement of all citizens in the various studies of conservation, that resulted in a raise of curiosity and knowledge in environment issues that helped to increase scientific knowledge regarding biodiversity conservation, this being said, the active participation of the citizens has been irreplaceable as well as constant in the protection and conservation of the planet to the future generations.


We believe that in order to being able to work for an ecologically sustainable future it is necessary a collective participation. However, it’s just as important to take individual initiative, wich one of us should adapt our habits to a more sustainable lifestyle.

Within the various studies about citizen science developed by the association, the birds census done in the natural ecosystems of the region throughout the last 3 decades, are by far, what stands out the most, thanks to volunteers, we have been able to study birds populational tendency throughout time. If these censuses weren’t made with the help of scientific volunteering, there would be a bigger struggle in housing all of this information in such a big temporal scale.

Nevertheless, association PATO goes beyond bird’s census, including other groups such as faunal and floristic, we also promote the inclusion of the population in their actions trough Apps and websites (biodiversity4all) where they can register their observations. By doing this, these citizens are actively contributing to the mapping of the biodiversity, that allows them to update old atlas involving various groups of animals. In fact, we can only achieve better scientific results and contribute to the sensibilization of the population about nature conservation with the contribution from the population.

In conclusion, although actions of nature conservation and inventory of the biodiversity are a crucial element of our work, we believe that it is necessary to educate and shape communities to be sustainable and environment citizenship. That is the path where we will keep developing our mission.


About the authors:

Sara Moreira - Degree in Biology and Master in Conservation Biology. Senior technician at Associação PATO since 2017. Project manager and environmental education in the Paul de Tornada Local Natural Reserve (RNLPT) and other natural ecosystems in the region.

Rita Ramos - Degree in Environmental Engineering and Master in Ecology and Environmental Management. Director of the Board of Directors of the PATO Association since 2017.