The University of Massachusetts Amherst

UMass Amherst Libraries Bring City Nature Challenge to Pioneer Valley

City Nature Challenge logo: green circle with plants and animals around the edges. Text: “City Nature Challenge 2021.”

The UMass Amherst Libraries are pleased to coordinate efforts for the Pioneer Valley’s participation in the annual international City Nature Challenge (CNC). The Challenge consists of a submission period from April 30-May 3, 2021, during which participants submit observations (such as photos or audio evidence) of wild plants, animals, and fungi using the free mobile app iNaturalist, and a crowdsource-based identification period from May 4-9, 2021.

According to the CNC website, the Challenge was started in 2016 by citizen science teams at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco “as a fun way to capitalize on their home cities’ friendly rivalry and hold a citizen science event around urban biodiversity.” Additionally, the wildlife information gathered during the Challenge “gives scientists, educators, urban planners, and policymakers insight into the biodiversity of urban locales throughout the world.” Last year, more than 800,000 observations were made.

Recently, Challenge organizers released a statement saying “In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 City Nature Challenge will not be focused on competition; instead we want to embrace the healing power of nature and celebrate tens of thousands of people all around the world, searching for and documenting their local biodiversity, together in this event.”

This year marks the second year that the Pioneer Valley is officially participating. Melanie Radik, librarian in the Science and Engineering Library, is spearheading organization efforts with an information guide and virtual workshops on April 29 and May 4 for interested participants.