Two years ago, two cities in the States, San Francisco and Los Angeles, decided to hold a friendly competition to see which city's population of eager wildlife observers could generate the most urban wildlife observations. A year later it had spread to several cities across the United States; today, using the iNaturalist platform, it's spread to over 60 cities across the world.
This year, the City Nature Challenge will be from 27th-30th April (the beginning of Friday to the end of Monday).
The following cities across Europe are taking part. Is yours on here? If so, please read on!
Bristol and Bath (UK)
Prague (Czech Republic)
(You can check out a full list of cities and collaborating organisations here.)
If you're in one of the cities taking part in City Nature Challenge 2018, there may be an event happening near you in which you can take part, such as a bioblitz in a park - the list of collaborations above will tell you. However, if you're unable to reach one of those, you can still check out iNaturalist projects to see if you can sign up this way. For example, there is one called City Nature Challenge 2018: London. If you do your observations through this project, from London, then the data you generate will be recorded for the competition, as well as iNaturalist's own work.
The competition is threefold: Which city generates the highest number of observations? In which city do the most people observe? And in which city is the highest number of different species recorded?
It's certainly not numerically rigorous, but it's a good step to getting involved in recording the nature around you, especially if you haven't done this much before. iNaturalist is a very friendly and rewarding platform. They have an AI system that is learning, through the millions of pictures they receive, to make suggestions about what species is being imaged (similar to astronomers such as Kevin Schawinski's work teaching computers to classify galaxies using citizen science). So if you've snapped a photo of an interesting looking plant, the app might recognise the leaves and make suggestions. However, depending on whether your privacy settings - which you control - allow this, other people might see your observation and make their own suggestions.
Doing It Together Science is helping with the three UK cities' efforts to get people photographing and classifying wildlife. Our community manager Alice will be at Hyde Park for Sunday 29th April, where there will be an all-day event: there will be a basecamp at The Lookout (a building in the middle of the park; there will be signs pointing to it throughout the park), in which there'll be a welcome desk and a stall helping anyone get iNaturalist onto their phones, and a series of wildlife walks including pond dipping, birdwatching, looking for lichen, digging for bugs, examining moths found overnight (prior to releasing them!), and so on.
We've also been encouraging other London parks to take part, and produced posters and leaflets which they can display or send to their mailing lists if they wish. If you'd like either of these posters or the leaflet as a PDF, do please get in touch with us.
Poster about the City Nature Challenge, good for display in a park noticeboard:
Poster on how to use iNaturalist, good for display in a park noticeboard:
Leaflet with a more in-depth tutorial about iNaturalist, which folds 3-way, good for handing out to people on the spot:
(iNaturalist has its own help page, of course, which is here.)
If you're in Europe and we've somehow missed out your event, please let us know! And feel free to write to us if you'd like to take part but you have any questions.