Take the City Nature Challenge 2019!

Person bending down to take a photo of a daisy with his phoneSkills for Wildlife: Team Plant & Team Fungi is one of our funded community projects for this year. They're taking part in an epic citizen science contest held worldwide called City Nature Challenge 2019, and in the process training a new generation of plant enthusiasts to record plants and tell their stories on social media.

Here in their own words they share their plans...

In preparation for the 2019 City Nature Challenge a group of nature enthusiasts have been embarking on missions around Bristol to learn the power of storytelling and nature recording. Thanks to the generous support of Grow Wild, the team explored the historic Brandon Hill Nature Reserve with Sophie Pavelle and recorded wildlife to tell the stories of the plants that live there.

Sophie Pavelle is a nature loving social media expert, who has worked with Springwatch at the BBC to produce a portfolio of social media content. Her speciality is telling narrative driven stories about the wildlife she encounters using Instagram and twitter and over the last week she has been teaching volunteers how to uncover stories that plants can tell.

These can take a variety of different paths, from telling the stories of the colourful plants in the area to shining a light on what people may think are “boring plants”. Social media is a great way to make an audience pay attention to wildlife that at first may seem unnoticeable.

By featuring them in posts alongside funny captions or interesting facts we can help tackle plant blindness both in the wider community and ourselves. Several people noted that even after an hour of looking, plants that first seemed almost invisible were being spotted absolutely everywhere.

Blurry daisy in front with bench behindNature recording was traditionally thought of as a pastime for the hardened horticulturalists and the engaged entomologist, and not something for the casual wildlife enthusiast. However, new technology which utilises photo recognition software and community knowledge, like the iNaturalist app, have changed this perception completely. All you need now to record nature in your area is a smart phone, and a sense of adventure.

Data recorded through the iNaturalist app is used in active scientific research- providing scientists with data sets and information that they would have never been able to generate on their own.  The data is also shared with local policy makers, as it real time analysis of local biodiversity.

The advent of new technologies means that nature data collection is appealing to a whole new audience of people with different skill sets, and as diversity in the field increases, so too does the satisfaction that  accompanies recording a local species.

The City Nature Challenge 2019 takes place between 26th-29th April and is a worldwide species recording bioblitz between cities using the iNaturalist app. Learn more more about the City Nature Challenge and how you can get involved to help your nearest region.