Calling all citizen scientists! Join Park Board in global ‘City Nature Challenge’

April 13 2018

Downtown Tayu

Help Vancouver take top spot in a worldwide biodiversity event by collecting the most observations of nature in our city!

The Vancouver Park Board is participating in the third annual City Nature Challenge , a global initiative inviting people to engage with nature in their cities by photographing wild plants, insects, animals, and fungi using the free iNaturalist app .

Document disappearing and flourishing urban wildlife

Resident observations can help the scientific community document both disappearing and flourishing urban wildlife. Species at risk found around Vancouver include the Little Brown Bat, Barn Swallow, Western Painted Turtle, and Great Blue Heron. Eagle, beaver and herring populations in the Vancouver area have recovered significantly in recent years, in part due to on-going conservation efforts to co-exist with animals in our city.

More than 60 countries will participate in the challenge, which takes place April 27-30. Following the four day photo collection period, identification of species will be crowdsourced through the online community May 1-3, and the results will be announced on May 4.

Participation is easy

For both budding and experienced nature enthusiasts, participation is easy:

  • Find nature in Vancouver – this could be a plant in your yard, a bird or insect in a neighbourhood park, mammals, slime mold, or any other evidence of life: scat, tracks, shells, even carcasses
  • Take a picture of what you find, noting the location, and share your observation on iNaturalist. Signing up is easy and free. Visit inaturalist.org from your browser, or download iNaturalist from the Apple App Store or Google Play store. Then join Vancouver’s Project page

Residents interested in taking part but not sure where to start can join one of several free Bioblitz workshops, hosted by Stanley Park Ecology Society, Bird Studies Canada, Environmental Youth Alliance, Nature Vancouver, and Jericho Stewardship Group in partnership with the Park Board. Participants will enjoy guided nature tours, and learn to use the iNaturalist app to record their observations.

Times and locations for tours can be found on the Park Board's Environmental Education and Stewardship webpage.

1,656 observations in 2017

The City Nature Challenge is organized by the California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. This year organizers estimate 500,000 observations will be made by over 10,000 people in participating cities. The data collected gives scientists, educators, urban planners, and policymakers insight into the biodiversity of urban locales throughout the world.

In 2017 challenge participants made 1,656 observations of species that were rare, threatened, or endangered. One such species was a critically imperiled butterfly, Bartrams’s scrub-hairstreak, found near Miami. In stark comparison, pigeons were found in every single city in 2017—what will we find in every participating city this year?

The City Nature Challenge supports the Park Board’s Biodiversity and Urban Forest strategies, and promotes an active outdoor lifestyle. It has the added benefit of connecting us virtually and in person with participants from Vancouver and the world, all striving to conserve and study urban biodiversity.