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Climate change is an intangible concept, and it is often difficult to understand something that is not visible. Tree phenology – or the appearance of leaves, flowers, and fruits in trees – is tuned to the seasonal changes in temperature and rainfall, showing predictable patterns year after year. These patterns may be observably disrupted when factors such as global warming affect changes in expected weather patterns. With technology at one’s fingertips and a growing community of determined citizens willing to document these changes, it has become progressively easier to keep track of tree phenology over time.

SeasonWatch is a pan-India citizen’s science project aimed at gathering information on tree phenology, through several years to document tree seasonality over space and time (research goal). The act of observing trees also provides thousands of interested citizens – especially children – across the country, the opportunity to go outdoors and interact with plants, and in the process, develop a meaningful connection with nature (education goal).


The core activity of SeasonWatch involves registering trees and monitoring their seasonal behavior at least once, or regularly every week. The project began in 2010, and till March 2023, SeasonWatch has accumulated more than 6.1 lakh observations on 1.2 lakh trees contributed by 1889 individual contributors and hundreds of students from 2021 schools. Between April 2022 and March 2023, 66587 new observations were added – of these, 50533 were repeat observations on registered trees. A total of 20892 trees were observed in this FY.

496 new schools, 96 colleges, and 460 new individuals joined the project this year. As in other years, more than 85% of the observations came from the state of Kerala. In 2022-23, the most-observed species continued to be Mango (2055 trees) and jackfruit (1307 trees), followed by Teak, Indian Laburnum, and Neem.

This FY, a key program was started to understand how SeasonWatch may be integrated with mainstream school curricula. To this end, a survey was designed and conducted with educators. It received 190 responses on the use and need of citizen science in classrooms to understand climate change (April-October 2022). Following the survey, a smaller group of teachers and educators was identified. They participated in 5 strategy meetings between December 2022 – March 2023 to narrow down key curricular topics that connect to climate change and devise pedagogy resources to aid the same.

The group will continue to meet for 6 months starting April 2023, to create a resource handbook as a supplement for classroom teaching. The resources will follow the Nature Classrooms nature learning framework as a pedagogy guide. This endeavor has been a first since SeasonWatch started, explicitly integrating citizen science with curricular learning of climate change. This program is supported by the Azim Premji University Research Fund.

Another large operational goal realized in this FY was the analysis of SeasonWatch data about the environment. This was conducted in collaboration with a Canada-based data science company – Modern Scientist Global. This helped understand how temperature and rainfall interacted with other factors such as elevation and urbanization to affect the flowering and fruiting behavior of three species – Mango, Jackfruit, and Tamarind in Kerala. It was found that higher temperatures and dry spells were essential for flowering in these species and that these effects were exacerbated in urban areas. This research is available as a pre-print here:

A key operational goal of adding a data verification mechanism was also realized in 2022-23, with a verification protocol and backend UI to support the verification. In 2022, a state-of-the-art assessment of data in citizens' science projects in India was published. This is the first documentation of its kind for the country ( SeasonWatch data were also shared with several stakeholders to utilize data for educational and research purposes.

Plans for the next three years

Over the next three years, SeasonWatch will continue to expand our audience base through diverse approaches – direct meetings, webinars and workshops, social media, and WhatsApp groups – to add more observations on tree seasonality to the project. We plan to implement two novel programs – the Campus Phenology Network and the India Tree Walks Network to cover a larger geographic area and engage newer audiences with a known interest in trees.

SeasonWatch data will also be analyzed in the context of future climate change, to predict tree behavior in the future. Engagements with the Climate Change Educator Group will continue, to first create relevant pedagogy resources, and in the future explore ways of integrating SeasonWatch into the formal education system.