Exciting News!

Everything to know about the 2020 City Nature Challenge in Philly

by Melissa Romero on April 15, 2020

Calling all nature lovers: The 5th annual City Nature Challenge kicks off from April 24-27! 

This global event calls on citizen scientists of all ages and education backgrounds to observe and submit pictures of wild plants, animals, and fungi using the free mobile app iNaturalist.

This year, it’s the perfect opportunity to explore and appreciate all of the nature and wildlife that Philly has to offer, especially as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22. 

Read on for more information on how you can participate and contribute to the City Nature Challenge.

What is the City Nature Challenge?

The City Nature Challenge is an international effort for people to find and document plants and wildlife in cities across the globe. It’s a bioblitz-style competition where cities are in a contest against each other to see who can make the most observations of nature, who can find the most species, and who can engage the most people.

But in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s City Nature Challenge is no longer a competition. We want to embrace the collaborative aspect of the CNC this year and the healing power of nature to allow people to document their local biodiversity in whatever way they can. At a time when group events can present health risks to the attendees and their communities, we can still take part individually. 

Why should I participate? 

There is nature all around us, even in Philly! Knowing what species are in our city and where they are helps us study and protect them, but the only way to do that is by all of us – scientists, land managers, and the community – working together to find and document nature in Philly. By participating in the City Nature Challenge, not only do you learn more about your local nature, but you can also make your city a better place – for you and other species!

Also, the most engaged participants will receive awesome perks! The users with the top observations in East and West Fairmount Park during the bioblitz will receive: 

  • 1st place: A Conservancy fanny pack + a Conservancy membership at the $100 level (includes discounts to park institutions, free admission to member events, an FPC T-shirt, and much more!) 
  • 2nd place: A Conservancy fanny pack + a pack of 4 botanical greeting cards
  • 3rd place: A Conservancy fanny pack

I’m in! How do I participate?

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

  1. Download the iNaturalist app onto your smartphone.
  2. Find any wild thing. It can be any wild plant, animal, fungi, or any other evidence of life ( fur, tracks, shells, scat, etc.) found in Philly – including your own backyard!
  3. Take pictures or video of what you find using the iNaturalist app.
  4. Learn more as your observations get identified.*

*And please note – all you have to do is snap a photo – a professional will help you identify your observation through the app! 

Can I start right away?

Sure! Once you download the app, you can use it right away, year-round. But you’re encouraged to save most of your observations for the April 24-27 City Nature Challenge to help Philly rise in the ranks! (Tip: You can take a photo or video on your phone and upload it to the iNaturalist app later.) 

Where can I find wildlife in Philly?

There are so many ways to document wildlife in our city. 

  1. Get to know your own backyard. If you have outdoor space at home, take a closer look! Is there moss growing in the cracks of your patio? Are there moths that visit your outdoor lamp at night? These all count in the City Nature Challenge!
  2. Participate during your walk or run in the park.* If you’re outside getting some exercise, keep an eye out for flora and fauna along the way. 
  3. Contribute to Fairmount Park Conservancy’s project page. If you happen to be on your walk or run in East and West Fairmount Park, be sure to document your wildlife findings to our project page! This will greatly help us develop and keep track of our natural lands. 

*Please remember to follow social distancing guidelines when in Philly parks

For more information, please visit Philly’s official City Nature Challenge website. And be sure to follow along on social media: 

Instagram: @CityNaturePhilly
Twitter: @PhillyCNC
Facebook: @PhillyCNC