Citizen Science – engagement and awareness in Bulgaria

Citizen Science as a term needs to be better adopted in Bulgaria. However, associated practices are implemented, mainly in citizen engagement and awareness.

The Sofia Science Festival is being held for the fourteenth time in a row to introduce knowledge seekers to the latest discoveries and innovations on topics such as Health, Technology, Space, Science and Art. The event is held under the patronage and national partnership of the Ministry of Education and Science and is part of the Cultural Events Calendar of the Metropolitan Municipality.

From May 9 to 12, Sofia Tech Park hosted exciting meetings with scientists, exhibitions, workshops and demonstrations, an exclusive festival bookstore, a premiere screening of a film from Poland, as well as a rich school program. The audience heard stories of scientists from Bulgaria, Austria, Belgium, Spain, China, Portugal, Turkey, Ukraine, Hungary, France, and the USA.

The festival is organised by the Beautiful Science Foundation and is open to all who share a curiosity about the scientific achievements that move humanity forward and influence the quality and way of our lives. The content is presented in an accessible and comprehensible language to enrich the understanding of current topics in science and broaden the horizons of the non-specialist audience. For the Ministry of Education and Science, the Science Festival is very important, as well as the “Pythagoras” awards, the “Young Talents” competition, and the “Scientists’ Night” which focuses on Bulgarian science, the prestige of Bulgarian scientists and career opportunities in science.


Involving citizens in the study of biodiversity with the help of photo traps is the goal of the initiative “Snap the wildlife – citizen science in action”, which SDP BALKANI started in 2022. The project is implemented with the financial support of the Foundation “Public Board of TELUS International in Bulgaria”. The SDP BALKANI team trains volunteers to set up camera traps in over 100 locations across the country. In this way, an amateur network for observing wild animals will be built and up-to-date data on the fauna in Bulgaria will be collected – for example, registration of new habitats of species or interesting moments from the life of our wild neighbors.

Photo traps are devices that are activated when moving and capture objects passing in front of them. Through face-to-face and online training, volunteer researchers will understand what research we might use them for, how to work with them in the field, and how to process the collected data. The information will be summarized and available to students, teachers and all interested parties on a site specially created for the purpose. And the best photos from the photo traps will be included in a traveling photo exhibition.

The project contributes to the development of citizen science in Bulgaria, where amateurs collect data, then transmit it to researchers, who process and analyse it for scientific or conservation purposes. In this way, a huge amount of data is collected in a short period of time, and citizens get to know closely the work of biologists and ecologists.

“We count sparrows” is a campaign of the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds, which aims to involve a large number of people in the monitoring of sparrows. The campaign has an environmental and educational aspect, and the results are of public importance. This is the second edition of the annual “We Count the Sparrows” campaign. Anyone who has access to the Internet and can spare 10 minutes for the count can participate in sparrow counting.

The initiative aims to collect information about the state of the birds around us. In this way, we will understand what is happening to the environment in which they live and help protect nature. Monitoring takes place every year and covers the whole country. It is carried out by volunteers. Observations of birds in our country are used to assess the state of birds not only in Bulgaria, but also throughout Europe. The campaign is conducted annually so as to establish what is the permanent trend in their populations and to establish the reasons for these trends. Data analysis will provide an answer to the question of what the reasons for the established trends are.

Author: Svetoslava Dimitrova, PhD