Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Wellington takes a walk on the wild side with global challenge

The global City Nature Challenge is coming and Wellington City Council is encouraging Pōneke residents to become citizen scientists as the city embarks on the four-day ‘bioblitz’.

More than 400 cities worldwide will take part in City Nature Challenge 2022 – reporting and logging sightings of wild plants, creatures, or organisms, living or dead, on the land, in the sea, from the coast to the hills, and even in backyards.

Cities compete to see which one can log the most nature observations on iNaturalist over one long weekend – encouraging everyone to get out and up close and personal with nature.

During the 2021 City Nature Challenge, several species were recorded for the first time on iNaturalist in Wellington City.

As the City Nature Challenge focuses on species that thrive in different locations around Aotearoa and the world, this is an opportunity to engage more people with the specific species that can be found around our city, says Council’s Play and Active Recreation Project Specialist Peta McMillan.

“Our environment is teeming with wildlife, and it’s pretty much accessible to everyone once they step outside their front door.”

“By getting our communities to actively connect with nature and the environment, they can start to see how unique the biodiversity in Wellington is, and how and why it is all worth protecting.

“It sometimes feels counterintuitive to have my phone out in nature, but I love being able to identify plants and fungi, and know I am contributing to my kids understanding of the forest, as well as science data for Wellington,” she said.

“By sharing your wildlife photos to iNaturalist, experts help you by identifying species, and you help them by providing new data,” says Te Papa scientist, Lara Shepherd. 

“Your photos and observations assist scientists with conservation monitoring and research and can even lead to the discovery of new species!

“A number of species were recorded on iNaturalist for the first time in Wellington last year, including the Hector’s clingfish, red alga and Curly-leaf pondweed

“A curious number of threatened species were also observed in last years’ challenge, including The Cook Strait giant wētā, the nationally critical urban spire snail, the nationally endangered Pacific reef heron and the nationally vulnerable Sea holly.”

The competition combines nature with technology making it even more engaging for young people, says Urban Ecology Manager, Daniela Biaggio.

“Wellingtonians really embrace the natural aspects of our city, whether it be volunteering, supporting Zealandia, or as part of an organisation like Predator Free Wellington – or simply by immersing themselves in regular outdoor activities.”

“This event encourages individuals, groups, whānau and friends of all ages to discover their neighbourhood in a fun and friendly way – with a little bit of competition thrown in too.”

How to participate:

  • It’s easy to get involved using the iNaturalist app (free on the app store). Just join the Wellington City Nature Challenge group, go on a walk in the city and take a picture of a plant or animal and upload it to the app.
  • All (and only) observations made starting 12am Friday 29 April (NZ local time) and up to 11.59pm Monday 2 May will count for the City Nature Challenge.
  • All those who attend Council events will go in the draw to win the major prize of a family membership to Zealandia, and smaller prizes including macro lenses and nature books.

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