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Boston Area City Virtual Nature Challenge

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Dates:Mon, Fri, Sat, Sun from 4/24/20 - 4/27/20
Ages:Kids, Teens, Adults
Category:Virtual Activities
Fifth annual challenge offers an opportunity for people to connect with nature and participate in a collective scientific effort, while safely navigating public health challenges.

As citizen science (also known as community science) initiatives increase in popularity, the fifth annual City Nature Challenge is set to take place in cities throughout the world.

From Friday, April 24 to Monday, April 27, people of all ages and backgrounds are invited to get outside to observe and submit pictures of wild plants, animals, and fungi using the free mobile app iNaturalist.

The global event, co-organized by San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, gathers observations via the app for use by scientists and educators.

While past events have been friendly competitions among cities, in response to shifting public health recommendations related to COVID-19, this year’s City Nature Challenge will instead be a celebration of nature in our backyards and neighborhoods.

Participants are encouraged to embrace the collaborative aspect of sharing observations online with a digital community, and celebrate the healing power of nature safely, with social distancing, as they document their local biodiversity within new public safety parameters. For detailed information about how the City Nature Challenge is adapting to COVID-19, visit citynaturechallenge.org/COVID19.

It’s more important than ever to support communities in new ways. Since 2016, the Boston Area City Nature Challenge steering committee (Brandeis University, New England Aquarium, Earthwise Aware, MassBays National Estuary Partnership, Earthwatch Institute, New England Ocean Science Education Collaborative, Suffolk University, University of Massachusetts, and Zoo New England) has been working collaboratively with dozens of local organizations from Cape Ann to the I-495 corridor, and south to the Cape and Islands to encourage participation.

Many of those partners are shifting from in-person events to online support for anyone interested in learning more about local biodiversity.

For both budding and veteran citizen scientists, participating is easy:

1. Find wildlife! It can be any wild plant, animal, fungi, slime mold, or any other evidence of life (scat, fur, tracks, shells, carcasses!) found in your neighborhood, home, backyard, or even through your windows. You might be surprised by how many insects thrive in the nooks and crannies around you.

2. Take pictures of what you find using iNaturalist. The app can suggest identifications, and local experts will help, too.

3. If you’re not able to take photos of wildlife, focus your efforts on identifying species documented in your area, especially during the identification period of April 28 – May 3.

Nature exists in every city, and one of the best ways to study it is by connecting scientists and the community through citizen science. As global human populations become increasingly concentrated in cities, it’s more important than ever to document urban biodiversity and help ensure the future of plants and wildlife.

Large pools of data built through iNaturalist, natural history museums, and science organizations help authorities make informed conservation decisions that allow humans to coexist sustainably with the plants and animals in their neighborhoods.

● General Information and Education Toolkit: citynaturechallenge.org

● Boston Area CNC website: https://www.zoonewengland.org/citynaturechallenge

● 2020 City Nature Challenge Boston Area Project: inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2020-boston-area

Last year, the City Nature Challenge tallied more than 950,000 observations made by over 35,000 people in over 150 participating cities. Participants in the Boston area spotted lots of spring favorites including several species of salamanders, our first butterflies of the season, and early season wildflowers.

Thanks to community efforts in 2019, we recorded 20,443 observations of 1,480 species by 1,133 observers in the Boston area. This influx of information gives scientists, educators, urban planners, and policy makers insight into the biodiversity of urban locales throughout the world. Scientists can’t be everywhere at once, so without community observations, they’d miss some incredible finds.




1 Franklin Park Road, Boston, MA, 02121 map
Phone: 6175415466


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