City Nature Challenge 2019

Nature-lovers of Bath and Bristol deserve a big round of applause. Last year they made more wildlife observations than any other European city and ranked 13th in the world in a global competition to observe and record wildlife in cities.

City Nature Challenge 2019 harnesses citizen power to record city wildlife. This year it takes place from Friday 26 April to Monday 29 April. People in cities around the world are encouraged to get outside and record what wildlife they see, be they wild plants (think dandelions, wild garlic and nettles) or creatures (think birds, beetles and bees).

This kind of activity is also called a bioblitz – a term coined in the 1990s from the Greek word for life, which is bio, and blitz which means to do something quickly. A bioblitz is an intense period of surveying by scientists, naturalists and volunteers to try to record all living species within a designated area over a short period of time.

Organised globally by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California Academy of Sciences, City Nature Challenge is growing. Last year, 68 cities joined in, uploading 431,000 observations in the 2018 City Nature Challenge. This year, more than 150 cities are taking part. Gathering up-to-date information on wildlife is important work. It helps conservationists, researchers, planners and policy makers make informed decisions. Every single observation whether a rare butterfly or common weed helps to understand and protect urban wildlife.

Here in Britain, volunteers and naturalists have been recording wildlife for hundreds of years, mapping out where different species are thriving or struggling. Thanks to their efforts, scientists know more about British wildlife than almost anywhere else in the world. But there are big gaps in our knowledge and some of the information is out-of-date – even the most common species may be under-recorded.

The Bristol and Bath City Region are representing the UK along with six other cities: Newcastle Upon Tyne, Greater Manchester, Glasgow, Leicester, Liverpool City Region, and London.

The Bath and Bristol City Nature Challenge is organised by our key partner, the Natural History Consortium. Part of the 2019 Festival of Nature, its one-day conference called Data Stories on 3 June at The Station, Silver Street, Bristol explores in more depth how nature data can be used. Bristol Festival of Nature is on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 June at Bristol Harbourside.

City Nature Challenge has three parts:

  1. Find wildlife be it wild plant or animal
  2. Take a picture of what you find and note where you saw it
  3. Share your observations.

To upload observations, sign into the iNaturalist app or visit iNaturalist.org.

Recording wildlife is a wonderful activity for children, and we have organised a family afternoon at Winterbourne for City Nature Challenge 2019. Nicole Daw of the Avon Wildlife Trust says: “It is time for a springtime nature adventure to see what we can find around the local nature reserve. Butterfly nets, bug pots, and smart phones at the ready. It’s a great event for all the family.”

Wild Winterbourne City Nature Challenge 2019 starts at the cart shed at the Medieval Barn at Church Lane, Winterbourne BS36 1SE on Saturday 27 April. 

Bristol Natural History Consortium 

Knapweed photo (c) Peter Evans