Sarah-Jayne Forster, RSPB Scotland’s Giving Nature a Home Project Manager is encouraging us all to get closer to nature by recording the wildlife in our local patches for this year’s City Nature Challenge.

Do you love nature but have never recorded what you found? This year’s City Nature Challenge is taking place from 30th April to 3rd May and is the perfect way to start recording your local wildlife.

To take part just visit the City Nature Challenge website and download the free iNaturalist app. You don’t need outdoor space or any previous experience of nature recording – all you need is your phone and the app and you’re good to go. The only criteria for submitting records is that the photo must be of wild species - so no pets or garden plants. The annual event is a challenge between over 400 cities worldwide, with 14 in the UK taking part including Glasgow and Edinburgh, to see which one can record the most species over the weekend.

It’s a great family activity and children love taking part. Get involved by taking photos of the plants, insects, animals, birds or fungi spotted from your window or in your local green space. No expert knowledge is needed as the app will help to ID your findings, or photos can be shared with the global community that use the app who can help with identifying.

If you live in Greater Glasgow take part here.

If you live in Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife take part here.

If you live elsewhere in Scotland take part here

Why is City Nature Challenge and wildlife recording so important? As more of us live in cities, it is important that we understand how different species are adapting to the habitats in them, to find ways to make homes for them. Cities can appear as a patchwork of tiny fragmented habitats from gardens to local parks, window boxes to brownfield sites. It is therefore impossible to understand what’s going on in cities without engaging a large variety of people who live, work and play across it. However, to wildlife, a city is one big habitat where they can go from park to garden to get what they need to survive. We need to know what exists in our cities, especially brownfield sites and also around the edges of the city in the suburbs and the surrounding countryside as these are some of the areas more vulnerable to development. If we know what species are in these areas, they are more likely to be protected.

In 2020, 10 city regions across the UK joined forces to activate a national community of almost 5,000 wildlife recorders during City Nature Challenge. Recorders contributed an incredible 71,500 wildlife records to local and national databases, where they are used to inform conservation, management and research.

Greater Glasgow and Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife are both taking part this year with boundaries that extend to most of the central belt in Scotland. The project is being coordinated by our Giving Nature a Home team who led the Glasgow City Nature Challenge for the last two years. If you are outside the Greater Glasgow and Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife boundaries you can also take part in the collaborative UK project. This is a great opportunity to discover more about the wildlife that lives where you live by recording the wildlife and plants you see. You can record what you see from your windows, spot in your flower boxes, find outside in your gardens or balconies or see in your local park or greenspaces.  Remember to follow government advice and social distancing guidelines.

So, over the weekend of 30th April – 3rd May, become a citizen scientist and record the wildlife you see in your local patch. Contribute to conservation work, have fun and help our wildlife!

Share your photos with RSPB Scotland Facebook and Twitter using #citynaturechallenge and #cncuk.

Main image Jenny Tweedie (