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THE CITY NATURE CHALLENGE

The City Nature Challenge is an annual international event organised by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California Academy of Sciences and has been taken up by cities worldwide. It is tricky for scientists to conduct biodiversity surveys in urban areas because the habitats are so fragmented, and it is not always possible to access private properties. This iNaturalist challenge calls on citizen scientists to help record the wildlife occurring in their cities.

Cities contain ecosystems that, while not all in a natural state, are filled with wildlife that have adapted their behaviour to survive and thrive in these environments and are essential in maintaining a balance in green spaces and urban ecosystems, which provide us with critical services such as oxygen and carbon sequestration, flood and drought regulation, water, recreational space, and many more. To maximise our understanding and protection of the wildlife in cities, scientists need to have all the information they can get, and you can help just by looking around and recording what you see!

 “Citizen scientists collect thousands of valuable records every day on biodiversity and the environment to assist conservation and research efforts across the globe. Play your part in helping to protect your patch of nature in your city by participating in this great global initiative and recording what species occur there.”

Dr Lizanne Roxburgh, Senior Scientist, EWT Conservation Science Unit

This year’s challenge takes place in two parts. The first phase (30 April–3 May 2021) involves taking pictures of wild plants and animals. The second phase (4 May–9 May 2021) is dedicated to identifying what was observed during the challenge.

To participate, download the app and sign-up to iNaturalist, find a project in your city (or start one!) and join in the fun – it’s addictive! See www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2021 for more information.

The following projects in South Africa have been registered so far:

Nelson Mandela-Bay

Ethekwini  

City of Cape Town 

Garden Route

Tshwane

Check out the project journals for training, helpful hints, and other great resources to get you started!