Take the City Nature Challenge

Photo by Michael Haynes

Guest blog by Mary Kennedy with the City Nature Challenge.

Do you love hiking and learning about nature?  This is your chance to join Nova Scotia’s vibrant iNaturalist community and help one of our province’s cities win the 2021 global City Nature Challenge! Local organizers of the three City Nature Challenge (CNC) events in Nova Scotia are inviting everyone to participate from April 30th through May 3rd.  The CNC is part of a friendly international competition designed to connect people to nature while taking an inventory of wildlife species around the globe.  HRM, CBRM, and The Annapolis Valley (Kings/Annapolis Counties) are three of more than 325 cities from more than 40 countries registered to participate in this year’s event, which encourages use of the free iNaturalist app to track wildlife species and inventory biodiversity.  

“We live in a big country and scientists can’t be everywhere,” said James Pagé, Species at Risk and Biodiversity Specialist with CWF. “During the CNC and year-round, individuals can be the scientists by contributing valuable observations for biodiversity research and conservation. Using smartphones and digital cameras as tools, iNaturalist helps us connect with nature while helping to conserve it.”

Photo by Michael Haynes

Locally we are encouraging people of all ages to get outdoors, explore, observe nature, share observations using iNaturalist, and to have fun! This is a great opportunity to explore new trails or hike old favourites either as solo adventures or as bubble activities. The objective of the challenge is to see which area will have the highest number of observations, the most species, and the most participants!  

In preparation for the CNC event choose an area to hike, then go online to iNaturalist.ca and EXPLORE this area – what plants/animals have others posted recently? Choose a few species and add these to your ‘must find’ list and then go on a quest to see if you can observe these species during your hike. Perhaps choose to hike a few different short trails, or one longer one, that goes through different habitats – field, wetland, open water, and forest for example, to get more different species.  Maybe take your friends and family along, as part of the challenge is to get more participants involved.  Use the CNC as an opportunity to get to know a few trails more intimately.

Photo by Michael Haynes

For those hikers who wish to ‘make miles’, consider taking a few photos at the start of the hike and then stop every kilometer or so and record a few more observations. It is possible to keep a decent pace along most of the trail, but during the CNC allow time at certain spots for slowing down and observing nature!

Don’t forget to take photos of any ticks that you might encounter as these are definitely wildlife. Keep your eyes open for tracks, scat, and other signs of wildlife and you guessed it – snap a few pics and upload to iNaturalist when you return home.

For more information on how to use iNat click here.

For more information on the Canadian entries in this year’s CNC click here.

Learn more about the Hiker Challenge here.

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