The Danube Delta is the largest natural wetland in Europe and is protected under UNESCO as a unique biosphere reserve. With the third largest biodiversity in the world, the reserve has more than 5,500 specifies of flora and fauna, as well as the highest concentration of bird colonies in Europe.
More than 10,000 people call the reserve home and rely on its natural resources for their livelihoods. However, the delta has suffered dramatic changes due to human intervention such as damming, fishing and forestry, disturbing the ecological balance of the wetlands. Monitoring the changing landscape s the first step in protecting the environment and communities.
Five Scent citizen science campaigns were organised in the Danube Delta area between 2018 and 2019. 193 volunteers from businesses, schools, universities and citizen groups in the local community were brought on field trips in small boats to explore the delta and test the new Scent Toolbox. Playing Scent Explore and Scent Measure, the volunteers competed with each other to catch Scent creatures hiding along the river in augmented reality. Simply by taking a photo or video of the creatures with the app, the volunteers were able to earn points while also collecting valuable environmental information about land-use/land cover, river parameters such as water velocity and depth, and soil moisture.
The information gathered by the volunteers using the apps is uploaded to the Scent Toolbox, where scientists and researchers can create flood maps for the management of flooding, and the protection of the Danube Delta’s environment and inhabitants.