Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)

Colleen Turner, Community Engagement and Membership Officer for RSPB Scotland, fills us in more on the City Nature Challenge taking place this weekend. This year due to COVID-19 the Challenge is now running a UK project that anyone can take part in not just those in the original nine cities which includes Greater Glasgow – more information on this in this blog.

If you live in Greater Glasgow take part here.

If you live elsewhere in Scotland take part here.

It’s nearly time for City Nature Challenge 2020!

It is that time again, the City Nature Challenge is almost here! This started in 2016 and is a worldwide campaign, where citizens within cities compete to record and identify wildlife. Glasgow is one of the nine UK cities taking part – the only one in Scotland –  along with the 200 cities worldwide. City Nature Challenge is an excellent way to encourage everyone to record wildlife by making it easily accessible through an app called iNaturalist.

With increasing urbanisation in cities, it is crucial that we record the wildlife that we see in our gardens, parks and green spaces. There is not a huge amount of recording in cities so encouraging the people to record is very important, as it allows experts to see what is happening with our urban species. The Giving Nature a Home Project in Glasgow and Edinburgh has always encouraged biological recording through BioBlitz events and working with local biological record centres. City Nature challenge is another way of doing this on a city wide scale, encouraging the public to get involved in recording urban nature and with the ability to compare cities across the world.

Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)

Why is recording wildlife so important? Well recording wildlife is important because it allows conservationists to assess and to improve species biodiversity. Biological recording helps establish trends, for instance increases or decreases within in species and how that could impact the surrounding environments and other species. The UK has one of the longest history of biological recording in the world, but there still needs to be more recording done in urban environments.

The City Nature Challenge is facilitated by many organisers across the UK like the Natural History Museum, the Wildlife Trust, and in Glasgow our Giving Nature A Home Project has previously run events during the City Nature Challenge weekend at Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery. These past events have centred around a BioBlitz which included an array of partners to make a fun family events, like worm charming, bird ringing, identifying wildlife, all the while encouraging people to record what they had seen. The aim of these events is to encourage and make biological recording fun and accessible for the public.

House sparrows were observed at City Nature Challenge 2019 in Glasgow. Credit: Ray Kennedy (rspb-images.com)

In 2019, during the City Nature Challenge we engaged with over 300 people at the event, with 134 observations, from dippers to dandelions. Within these species identified, some of our Ambassador species such as house sparrows and bumblebees were identified. These are some of the species we champion in our project, working with communities to improve habitats for across the city. Last year ‘Dippy’ the dinosaur was visiting Kelvingrove from the Natural History Museum in London, so we focused the BioBlitz to be a bigger event around the museum and park. This year, with the Challenge taking part while we’re in lockdown, we want to get even more people taking part but this time from their own homes and wherever they are in Scotland.

If you live in Greater Glasgow take part here.

If you live elsewhere in Scotland take part here.

Dippers were also observed in 2019. Credit: Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com)

Biological recording is crucial, and many people know about the Big Garden Birdwatch and the State of Nature report which are part of research for UK wildlife. The State of Nature report showcased the positive outlook of voluntary biological recording: “contribution of voluntary and amateur recording to our understanding of UK wildlife populations and distributions is now world leading and its significance vitally important to national monitoring and conservation efforts.” Therefore, projects such as the City Nature Challenge is an excellent example for people to get out into their gardens, balconies or just looking through their windows to record what animals they are seeing. Even if it is only pigeons, it is still important to record how many you are seeing as they are also a part of our natural world!

So, over the weekend and surrounding days of 24th to 27th of April, become a citizen scientist and record the wildlife you see from your home wherever you are in Scotland. Contribute to conservation work, have fun and help our wildlife!

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