City Nature Challenge Connects Riverview Residents with Wildlife
In the face of the pandemic, finding ways to connect with each other and our community may be challenging but it’s also more important than ever. When done safely, getting outside and exploring the beauty in nature is a great way to relieve stress, while promoting mental health and wellbeing. With the ongoing popularity of urban parks this year, it’s a great time to be planning ways to engage with nature in new ways this spring.
From April 30 to May 3, 2021, Winnipeg will participate in its first ever City Nature Challenge (CNC)! This weekend long event continues to grow in popularity and is expanding to more than 400 cities across six continents.
The annual event invites people of all ages – whether a budding or experienced scientist – to celebrate urban biodiversity by participating in the 2021 City Nature Challenge. Anyone can add observations to their City’s project by taking a photo of anything wild in nature that grabs their eye. It could be a plant, animal, fungi, lichen – or even evidence of that organism by snapping a photo of their tracks, scat, feathers etc. You can participate for free by using iNaturalist. The basic steps are:
- Download the iNaturalist app or visit their website and make an account.
- Take photos of wild plants and animals to make observations. If you know that what you’re photographing is not wild, mark it as captive/cultivated.
- Upload your observations to share with the iNaturalist community.
- Learn more as your finds get identified!
The event is organized each year by the California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Winnipeg is one of twenty-three cities across the country that are participating, along with the Canadian Wildlife Federation and other Canadian partner organizations. With travel restrictions due to the pandemic, scientists more than ever rely on observations from community scientists for important findings, and the results have been astounding! For instance, during the 2020 City Nature Challenge, over 1,300 endangered, endemic, or data deficient species were recorded! This influx of information is shared broadly and gives scientists, educators, urban planners, and policymakers insight into the biodiversity of locations throughout the world to help inform conservation decisions that allow both human and natural communities to thrive.
I hope to see lots of Riverview citizens observing local wildlife during Winnipeg’s inaugural year participating in the City Nature Challenge! It’s a fun way to get out and enjoy the outdoors and helps connect us as a community as we explore the fascinating wildlife that exists right here in our own backyard. I love perusing iNaturalist to see neighbourhood observations of warblers, bees, asters and other beautiful wildlife around Riverview. I noticed that others have spotted that sly fox trotting along the trails of Churchill Drive too and uploaded their photos! INaturalist has helped to deepen my understanding of the species that share this land. I still recall my first time identifying a mysterious caterpillar crawling around the garden and then the satisfaction of knowing my goal of attracting native pollinators to my yard was working!
So whether discovering wildlife along Churchill Drive, at one of the wonderful natural areas in and around Winnipeg, or even in your own backyard, there are many ways to safely document plant and animal species for science. Prepare to be amazed by the beauty you’ll discover while helping to foster local and global connections and a better understanding of our natural world!
The Winnipeg Region CNC project page has lots of great information and can be accessed here:
If you have any questions about the Winnipeg CNC project and would like to reach out to someone local in Riverview feel free to contact me, Lindsay Mierau at: firstname.lastname@example.org.