In the Mont-Blanc massif, volunteers help researchers study the environment



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What could be more emblematic than the Mont-Blanc massif to observe the impacts of climate change? And to understand the issues when you are not a specialist, nothing like getting your hands dirty. This is called participatory science. This collaboration between the general public and scientists is the hallmark of Crea Mont-Blanc, for which Brad Carlson works. In this regard, the Center for Research on Altitude Ecosystems won in 2017 the “Momentum for change” prize awarded by the United Nations.

The NGO, based in Chamonix, studies the impact of climate change on mountain biodiversity. Research work that scientists are therefore also keen to share with as many people as possible through all kinds of invitations and invitations. For example, there is Phénoclim, a fauna and flora monitoring program, monthly “science sandwich” sessions, to nibble a bit while listening to a researcher talk about flora and fauna, or the Wild Mont-Blanc project to identify alpine animals. And for those who have a little more time, the possibility of going out for a day to collect data on observation sites in the Mont-Blanc massif.

Established in France for ten years, researcher at Crea and high mountain guide, Brad Carlson, recently took a group of volunteers to the study site of Loriaz, above Vallorcine, in the Chamonix valley. . Objective of this day: to make an inventory of the vegetation on delimited sites (plots) in order to be able to compare the results with the observations made at the same place in 2017. While climate changes are twice as marked in the Alps as elsewhere in France, these data will make it possible to verify how the flora evolves at altitude: is the forest progressing? Are new plants colonizing the heights? “We need to complete what we see with satellite images with the eyes of volunteers“, explains Brad Carlson.

We love what amazed us and we protect what we love“said Commander Cousteau. Researchers at CREA transformed the second part of the sentence by adding”we study what we like“, Brad Carlson can assure him: raising public awareness and sharing with him so that this wonder is born remains the best recipe to then encourage him to act.

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