Annual City Nature Challenge launches in Bath this bank holiday weekend

The global effort to get people enthusiastic about nature returns to the city from April 29th

By Alastair Salmon

The City Nature Challenge is part of an effort to get people from over 400 cities across the globe out and about to record as much nature in their local areas as they can.

Participation in the Bristol & Bath areas is organised by the conservation group Bathscape, and they’re enthusiastic about getting people interested in the wildlife around them.

Organisation member Lucy Bartlett told us that she sees the event as “a way of encouraging people to get excited about the nature on their doorstep” and creates a community that can educate and generate interest in the minutiae of our region’s wildlife. But it also benefits Bathscape as the data collected can then be used to get a clearer picture of species that might need more help.

“Data, when you work in conservation, is really important; it’s important to know what species are doing well, what species are struggling, what habitats are thriving, and which are a bit more under threat, and this is a really big citizen science push for that”.

Lucy further explained that in Bath a few years ago, a participant in the event discovered some Marsh fritillary butterflies, which are uncommon in the region. Using that data, the group encouraged local landowners to plant the specific flowers those butterflies like to aid in enabling that population to thrive.

But the event doesn’t have to be about discovering rare species; it’s also focused on engaging with the simplest parts of the green spaces around us:

“We’re not particularly after that rate orchid that nobody thinks exists anymore; it’s much more what you see in your garden, what you see in your local part – anything that grows, anything that flies, anything that’s moving around.”

Pre-pandemic, the event was also competitive, with each region being awarded points based on the number of species recorded and the number of people getting involved. Bristol & Bath were even top scorers in Europe in 2019, especially notable given many species are still somewhat dormant at this time of year.

If you would like to get involved in the event, you can download the iNaturalist app for iPhone or Android, which allows you to record nature and get help to identify the species you find, which experts will then verify.

Any information on this and Bathscape’s wider work can be found here.