Author: Helen Santiago Fink
In its third year, the City Nature Challenge (CNC) has become a multi-stakeholder event to connect people, technology, and nature for the purpose of education, research, and collective action towards environmental stewardship. During four days in April (27 – 30), 2018, the City Nature Challenge animated 17,000 urban residents in 69 cities around the world to observe, document, and learn about our living environment.
The iNaturalist app serves as the cornerstone for cataloging the CNC observations and educating users on the biodiversity observed as well as providing researchers with new data. In 2018, 4,075 research grade observations were documented and over 100 new species were recorded on iNaturalist.
San Francisco, California proved to be the overall winner with 1,532 participants, 41,737 recorded observations, and 3,211 identified species. Approximately, 450,000 observations were recorded worldwide. The Washington, DC metropolitan area mobilized a strong collaborative of institutions, community groups and environmental organizations to finish fourth in the total number of participants and fifth in recorded observations, while signaling the importance of green cities and valuable impact of citizen science and civic engagement.
The City Nature Challenge is expected to attract more cities and participants in coming years and accelerate the essential education and mobilization of individuals, civil society, and institutions to engage with nature to reap the benefits it offers and foster the stewardship it merits.