In today's blog, Daniel Robb from our Giving Nature a Home team explains all about the City Nature Challenge, including how to get involved and promote the wildlife of your local area.

Participating in the City Nature Challenge is a tremendous opportunity for anyone who wants to protect biodiversity, record your local wildlife and represent your City/Region on an international stage. Using iNaturalist you can make just a few recordings or a lot, but it is an opportunity to get outside, learn about your surroundings and have fun!

Cowslip (Primula veris) Image credit: RSPB Scotland

So first what exactly is it? The City Nature Challenge is a participation event where cities and regions all over the world contribute findings to highlight the local variety of wildlife that populate their area. Known as a bioblitz, thousands of recordings are reported over a short period to acquire a snapshot of a place’s natural health. If you have an interest in participating in the City Nature Challenge and becoming a citizen scientist either on your own or in a group, there are only a few steps you have to take in and it's pretty easy, so here’s how.

Step 1: Download the iNaturalist app from the Google Play Store or Apple app store if you want to use it on your phone, or simply sign in on the website if you would rather take your photographs from a camera and upload them later. If you are a teacher or are taking part with young children you can either nominate one person to upload all your results or use the Seek app by iNaturalist. Further instruction for teachers can be found here.

Step 2: Take pictures of the wildlife around you, whether it be something as common as a dandelion or more vulnerable species like a greenfinch. Anything and everything natural you can record between the Friday 29 April 2022 and Monday 2 May 2022 paints a more detailed picture of your local area. This means you might want to take a walk or just a look out your window over the days of the challenge to highlight a particular place for the iNaturalist map. Maybe you know a spot close to you that is very busy with wildlife and you would like to document with your phone or camera. Some parts of the central belt are often not as famous for their natural beauty as say the highlands, so get involved! You are promoting your area and your own position on the in-app leaderboard.

Image credit: RSPB Scotland

Try to take high quality photographs as it makes it easier for people to identify what’s in them in the final phase of the challenge. Whilst a hedgehog is a great find and something easy to identify, a brown lipped snail can have widely different patterns on its shell so details are important. Throughout the challenge, results in the central belt will be included either in the Greater Glasgow or Edinburgh projects but photos taken out with that period will not count even if you upload them during the challenge. We’re looking for a variety of wildlife but if you see multiple examples of the same species in different places you should still take their photograph.

Hedgehog. Image credit: Eleanor Bentall

Step 3: Upload, identify and share. The app will require access to your phone and it’s wise to make sure your pictures don’t include people’s faces or private information, but now you can show the world what you have found. Some people on the app know a lot more about wildlife than others but all you need to do is upload the pictures and give it your best try to identify what you have found. Don’t worry if you’re not sure however, as there are many experts who will be able to look over your results and confirm if they are correct, as well as recognition software on the app which can give you suggestions. So give it a shot! Between Tuesday 3 May and Sunday 8 May all the observations will be pored over and assessed to confirm the results for your city. In 2021 Glasgow made over 1,300 observations and identified 383 species but our all-time best result was 575 species with over 2,000 observations in 2020. This year the region included in Greater Glasgow is even bigger, so we are hoping to beat last year’s score with your help.

And then you’re done. Good job! You will have helped create a better picture of our natural world, spent some time reconnecting with nature and hopefully had fun. If you feel like it you can continue to post observations all year round.

 Header image credit: Ben Andrew

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