Caring for the environment  |  23 Apr 2019

Christchurch nature lovers will soon take part in an international challenge to record the most observations of local wildlife.

Christchurch City Council has entered Christchurch in the City Nature Challenge, which runs from Friday 26 April until Monday 29 April, and is also helping with co-ordination. 

The City Nature Challenge

Christchurch residents are being asked to record their observations of local wildlife for the City Nature Challenge, starting on 26 April.

It is the first time Christchurch has entered and it will be the only New Zealand city to compete.

The global event, which this year has 160 participating cities on six continents, is based on citizen science, meaning keen volunteers of all ages and levels of expertise can provide observations and record species of plants or animals.

The goal is to get as many people as possible to record as many species as they can during the four day “bioblitz” while also having fun in nature.

They’re asked to submit pictures of wild plants, animals and fungi or evidence of wildlife such as fur, tracks and carcasses, from anywhere in the Christchurch district, including the central city, suburbs and Banks Peninsula, using the free mobile app that links to the iNaturalistNZ website.

The app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play store.

Families who follow the Christchurch Botanic Gardens Discovery Trail in the school holidays will be encouraged to take part with information about the City Nature Challenge provided in the free trail booklet.

Council Natural Environment Advisor Laura Molles is hoping Christchurch people will jump at the chance to get involved. “It’s the first time we’ve entered but I think we’ll make a good showing. We’d love to use this as a springboard for even bigger support next year.

“Everyone who has a crack at it and uploads at least one observation during the four days is contributing to the competition, even if they just take a photo of a weed in their garden.”

iNaturalist NZ - Mātaki Taiao is the New Zealand branch of iNaturalist - an international citizen science biodiversity recording system - which is hosting the local event.

As part of the City Nature Challenge there will be free expert-led field trips for all ages organised for locations around Christchurch and Banks Peninsula including Waimakariri, Misty Peaks, Little River and central city sites such as the Botanic Gardens between 26 and 29 April. For more details on dates and locations check Eventbrite.

The iNaturalist NZ online community will also help identify organisms in the photos that are sent to the app or website.

The international organisers of the City Nature Challenge are the California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Participating cities compete to win in several categories, including most species, observations and participants. The results will be announced on 7 May. Last year’s winner was San Francisco.

The 2018 challenge produced 400,000 nature observations. The data is still being used by scientists and urban planners around the world to help conserve urban wildlife.