With so many people wildlife watching this spring, nature-enthusiasts old and new are being asked to help protect the natural world by sharing their wildlife sightings online as part of the citizen science project, the City Nature Challenge.
Now in its 5th year, the City Nature Challenge is a collaborative, event designed to connect people with nature by encouraging them to record and share photos of any wildlife observations they see from Friday 24th to Monday 27th April.
There is an ever-growing body of evidence suggesting that nature is fantastic for our wellbeing, with the ability to lower blood pressure, improve our mood and help us to relax, while wildlife recording help authorities and organisations make informed conservation decisions that allow humans to coexist sustainably with the plants and animals in their neighbourhoods. The City Nature Challenge allows people to connect with and document their local wildlife in whatever way they can.
People can participate in the Challenge by photographing flora, fauna and fungi in and around their homes over the four days and uploading the images onto the free wildlife recording app iNaturalist. Any evidence of wildlife counts, including feathers, poo and nests. If you aren’t sure what you’ve discovered, iNaturalist uses photo-recognition to suggest what it could be, and the app’s online community of wildlife-lovers help to check each identification to reduce mistakes. iNaturalist can be downloaded through the Apple store, Google Play or www.inaturalist.org.
Globally, the City Nature Challenge is organised by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences. This year, the Lancashire Wildlife Trust and local environmental records centres (Merseyside Biobank, Lancashire Environmental Records Network and Greater Manchester Record Centre) are leading the Challenge in the north west with support from other environmental organisations and local friends of groups.
Molly Toal, a Project Officer at the Lancashire Wildlife Trust says, “It’s really positive that so many people are finding enjoyment in nature at this time and sharing what wildlife they’re seeing near their homes on social media. We’d like to encourage everyone to help protect the wildlife they’re seeing by joining in with the City Nature Challenge. As well as discovering amazing plants, fungi and animals, anyone who uses iNaturalist will be helping efforts to protect wildlife.” The more information we can capture on changing wildlife populations, the more informed our conservation decisions will be.
The results of the survey will be announced on Monday 4th May. In the run up to the weekend, the Lancashire Wildlife Trust will also be sharing ideas on website and on social media as to how you can make your outdoor space more attractive to wildlife and bring nature to you.
Molly adds, “Every garden has the potential to be a miniature nature reserve. It’s amazing what you can find outside your door when you let your grass grow long or leave out water for birds. Even a balcony or windowsill can be filled with pots of wildflowers and herbs that bees and butterflies will adore.”
For more information on the City Nature Challenge and ideas to bring nature to you, visit: www.lancswt.org.uk/events/city-nature-challenge.