Started in 2016 as a competition between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the City Nature Challenge (CNC) has grown into an international event, motivating people around the world to find and document wildlife in their cities. Run by the Community Science teams at the California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the CNC is an annual four-day global bioblitz at the end of April, where cities are in a collaboration-meets-friendly-competition to see not only what can be accomplished when we all work toward a common goal, but also which city can gather the most observations of nature, find the most species, and engage the most people in the event.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 City Nature Challenge will not be focused on competition; instead to embrace the healing power of nature and celebrate tens of thousands of people all around the world, searching for and documenting their local biodiversity, together in this event. NOTE: We urge all participants to carefully follow public health guidelines provided by your local governments, as they are changing in real-time. Individual safety and public health are our utmost priority. View the City Nature Challenge global promotion below for a snapshot of the City Nature Challenge 2021 and its international reach.
Why participate in the City Nature Challenge?
Nature is all around us, even in our cities! Knowing what species are in our cities and where they are can help us study and protect them. Still, the ONLY way to do that is by all of us – scientists, land managers, and the community – working together to find and document the nature in our area. By participating in the City Nature Challenge, not only do you learn more about the local nature you love, but you can also make your city a better place – for you and other species!
First Greater Portland-Vancouver CNC
This will be the first year the greater Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area participates in the City Nature Challenge. Help set the baseline this year by participating on iNaturalist to observe and document as many plant and wildlife species as possible in the 4-day period, from April 30 – May 3rd. From May 3rd-9th, identification will take place. By May 10th, observations will be identified by scientists, naturalists, and experts. The activity can be self-directed or include others in your family with COVID-19 safety considerations.
What kinds of observations should I make?
Any observations of WILD plants, animals, fungi, seaweed, bacteria, lichen, etc. you find in and around your city! Observations of living or dead organisms, or evidence of those organisms, like shells, tracks, scat, feathers, etc., are fine. Remember to make sure you’re taking good photos of the organisms!
Start at Tanner Springs Park
Begin your participation in the CNC 2021 at Tanner Springs Park in NW Portland. Visit the established Tanner Springs Park Project Page on iNaturalist to see the current documented species. If a species is already listed, new photos of those species are still needed to understand ecological changes over time. In 2014 Tanner Springs Park was the most northerly identified location for the Flame Skimmer dragonfly. Ecologists have since documented the Flame Skimmer’s movement north with climate change.
Three easy steps to participate
1. FIND IT – Any plant, animal, or any other evidence of life found in your city. (no pets or houseplants)—a quick video below demonstrating how easy it is to observe with the iNaturalist mobile app.
2. PHOTOGRAPH IT – Take a picture of what you find. Be sure to note the location of the critter or plant, especially if you are using a camera without GPS coordinates. View the video below for three tips for taking better photos for iNaturalist.
3. SHARE IT– Post your photographs on iNaturalist on your personal iNaturalist page, the City Nature Challenge page, or an established project page for a park, natural area, or group. All observations taken during the time period April 30-May 3rd, 2021, in the designated Portland-Vancouver event area will be shared automatically with the City Nature Challenge event.
Integral to sharing is adding high-level identification. Whatever you know about the organism like “plants” or “insects” or “birds” or “fungi” can be used – so people who do know how to ID these groups down to species can find them and help with more specific identification.
Getting started and helpful links
- Visit iNaturalist.org
- Download the app from the AppStore or Google Play
- Sign In
- Start sharing your observations (see video above)
- Get feedback from actual scientists, experts, and other naturalists by May 10th.
- If you are a scientist, expert, or naturalist who can help identify sightings others have posted during this period go to the Portland-Vancouver project page and there will be a link to the observations that were collected to help identify.
- City Nature Challenge website: https://citynaturechallenge.org/
- Follow the Portland-Vancouver project here: City Nature Challenge 2021: Greater Portland-Vancouver Metropolitan Area
- Education toolkit: https://citynaturechallenge.org/education-toolkit/
- Frequently Asked Questions: https://citynaturechallenge.org/cnc-faqs-page/
- Questions: CityNatureChallengePDX@gmail.com