Nature fans in Christchurch are being encouraged to join in the 2022 global bio-blitz City Nature Challenge that begins tomorrow.
From Friday 29 April to 2 May 2022, keen nature watchers in Christchurch and six other New Zealand cities and regions will join tens of thousands of people across the globe to look for nature in their backyards and cities.
They will record their observations using the free mobile app iNaturalist, which uses the power of everyday people to map and catalogue the world’s biodiversity, while creating a fabulous resource for science and research.
Any resident or visitor in Christchurch can participate in the City Nature Challenge, in which each participating city or region will compete to gather the most observations of nature, find the most species, and engage the most people in the event.
Ecologist and NZ iNaturalist Trust chair Colin Meurk says the four -day event will be the biggest, coordinated countrywide bio-blitz, and he expects that many unexpected creatures and organisms – both good and bad – will be discovered.
“People are surprised, when they start looking, by just how much nature there is in the urban environment, thinking they have to go out into the countryside, the mountains, or bush to find anything interesting.
“But all our cities are at the nexus of our richest and most threatened lowland and coastal habitats.
“Through the iNaturalist NZ—Mātaki Taiao community we’ve discovered new species, found plants and insects in unexpected places, and spotted invasive pests and diseases,” says Dr Meurk.
People can start in their own backyard and don’t need to know what they are photographing because once the photos are uploaded, scientists can scan through the pictures and verify the AI identifications or propose alternatives.
This can lead to important discoveries such as the first myrtle rust case spotted in Christchurch in May 2021.
The City Nature Challenge is the perfect activity for the last week of the school holidays.
Find out more and join in at inaturalist.nz or citynaturechallenge.org.