What is it like to participate in the Phénoclim program? A volunteer observer gives his feedback

“It only takes a few minutes a week….It’s simple. And it brings a little joy.”

Patrick has been participating in the Phénoclim program for a year, and agreed to give us some feedback on his experience and tell us what he gets out of the program.

Patrick, making observations of the development of the hazelnut tree in his Phénoclim site. © C. Lotteau


In just a few words, can you tell us about the project?

The Phénoclim program, participants record, year after year, the evolution of when the mountains (more specifically the plants and animals) fall asleep and wake back up with the seasons.  The data collected allow us to better understand the impacts and consequences of ongoing climate trends.

What exactly do you have to do to participate?

I participate in Phénoclim on my own.  I chose an area less than 500 meters from my home, and then using a set list made by the research team, I chose species of trees and plants present within my zone.  Next, I chose a few individual specimens of those target species and marked them with paint.  During the spring and the fall, I go out to observe their stage of development (buds, flowers, leaves…) and I record my observations on the Phénoclim website.  You don’t need to have any specialized knowledge…you just need to be observant and know how to connect to a website.

What are the different challenges or difficulties you’ve encountered?

At the beginning, the toughest part is correctly identifying the species and the different stages of development.  And maybe recognizing the species at the end of winter when there aren’t any leaves, or distinguishing between male and female flowers in the spring.  But there are guides for that on the site and even tutorials showing how to use the website.  You can also always send questions by email.

What have you enjoyed about this project/ what in particular has been satisfying for you?

The best part is to discover these moments in nature that, even if they were happening right in front of my eyes, were invisible to me.  I learned how to be a better observer.  I contributed to scientific research.  I enjoy sharing my experience with friends and neighbors.  It also allows you to better understand what is happening with climate change and inspires you to integrate new daily practices and contribute to taking care of our planet.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to participate?

It only takes a few minutes a week.  And it allows you to spend some quality time observing nature.  It helps you understand the rhythm of the natural world and how far we’ve strayed from it in our daily lives. It’s simple. And it brings a little joy.


Written by: Anaïs Chion from Nature Isere & Colin Van Reeth

Translation: Hillary Gerardi


Pour en savoir plus

Visitez le site du Phénoclim

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