Nottingham is taking part for the first time in the global City Nature Challenge and needs your help.
The City Nature Challenge, taking place Friday 24th – Monday 27th April, is an annual event documenting nature and helping residents, nature enthusiasts and professionals alike to better understand urban biodiversity. Usually the City Nature Challenge takes the form of a friendly competition, however, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, some modifications have been made to keep everyone safe this year. Instead of competing against each other, this year cities will join together to embrace the healing power of nature and encourage collaboration through recording the natural world on our doorsteps. This will allow people to safely contribute and document biodiversity in whatever way they can, even from the safety of their own homes if necessary.
In Nottingham, the initiative is being led by the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust City Local Group and Ignite! Other partners include Nottingham City Council and the National Biodiversity Network. Ignite! has received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to support the engagement of schools and community groups in the challenge., and information on how schools still open and families learning at home can get involved is available via the Ignite! website and social media. There are plans for schools and youth groups to take part in a bioblitz later in the year when they reopen.
Giselle Sterry from the National Biodiversity Network said, “Now more than ever is a time when people are recognising the importance of feeling connected to nature and the joy that butterflies and blossom can bring in hard times. We want people to get involved in this project to celebrate and showcase the biodiversity in our city.’
While public events that were planned for the City Nature Challenge have been postponed, the group is encouraging people to take part over the weekend however they can and wherever they are:
‘The City Nature Challenge is about celebrating urban wildlife in all its forms, that means not just parks and open spaces, but also the birds in our garden, the ‘weeds’ on our patio, the bugs on our balconies, the spiders in our sheds and the butterflies on our allotments. This is an opportunity for people to look at their environments a different way, and find beauty in unexpected places.’
To take part, people just need to download the nature recording app iNaturalist and take photos of the plants, animals or other wildlife around them. Recordings made in the City will appear on www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2020-nottingham-city-uk. People who live outside the city boundaries can take part too, by sharing their photos to iNaturalist. All the sightings across the country can be viewed via the link above. The City Local Group is also inviting people who can help identify species in the photos taken, to confirm the sightings through the app or on the iNaturalist website until Sunday 3rd May. More information at www.inaturalist.org, www.citynaturechallenge.org or www.wildlifeinthecity.org
The group is asking that people follow the latest NHS and government guidelines while taking part in the City Nature Challenge.
At the end of the challenge, all the data will be available and where possible shared to national and international databases, which will enable researchers to better understand changes in biodiversity.