Watching wildlife can help your wellbeing and protect nature

Watching wildlife can help your wellbeing and protect nature

Ben Hall/2020VISION

With so many people wildlife watching this spring, nature-enthusiasts old and new are being asked to help protect the natural world by sharing their wildlife sightings online as part of the citizen science project, the City Nature Challenge.

Now in its fifth year, the City Nature Challenge is a collaborative event designed to connect people with nature by encouraging them to record and share photos of any wildlife they see from Friday 24 - Monday 27 April.

There is an ever-growing body of evidence suggesting that nature is fantastic for our wellbeing, with the ability to lower blood pressure, improve our mood and help us to relax, while wildlife recording helps authorities and organisations make informed conservation decisions that allow humans to coexist sustainably with the plants and animals in their neighbourhoods. The City Nature Challenge allows people to connect with and document their local wildlife in whatever way they can.

Wildlife recording inaturalist

Charlotte Varela

People can participate in the Challenge by photographing flora, fauna and fungi in and around their homes over the four days and uploading the images onto the free wildlife recording app, iNaturalist. Any evidence of wildlife counts, including feathers, poo and nests. If you aren’t sure what you’ve discovered, iNaturalist uses photo-recognition to suggest what it could be, and the app’s online community of wildlife-lovers helps to check each identification to reduce mistakes. iNaturalist can be downloaded through the Apple store, Google Play or the iNaturalist website.

Globally, the City Nature Challenge is organised by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences. This year, Lancashire Wildlife Trust and local environmental records centres (Merseyside Biobank, Lancashire Environmental Records Network and Greater Manchester Record Centre) are leading the Challenge in the North West with support from other environmental organisations and local Friends Of groups.

A mistle thrush standing on grass in a garden with its head cocked

Mistle thrush by Anthony Beyga

Our Project Officer Molly Toal says:

“It’s really positive that so many people are finding enjoyment in nature at this time and sharing what wildlife they’re seeing near their homes on social media. We’d like to encourage everyone to help protect the wildlife they’re seeing by joining in with the City Nature Challenge. As well as discovering amazing plants, fungi and animals, anyone who uses iNaturalist will be helping efforts to protect wildlife.”

Photos can be submitted between Friday 24 April and Monday 27 April, with results announced on Monday 4 May. In the run up to the weekend, we'll be sharing ideas on our website and social media channels to help you make your outdoor space more attractive to wildlife and bring nature to you.

Molly adds, “Every garden has the potential to be a miniature nature reserve. It’s amazing what you can find outside your door when you let your grass grow long or leave out water for birds. Even a balcony or windowsill can be filled with pots of wildflowers and herbs that bees and butterflies will adore.”

Take part in the City Nature Challenge

How to get involved

Amy Lewis