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 2020.”

The UMass Amherst Libraries are pleased to coordinate efforts for the Pioneer Valley’s participation in the fifth annual international City Nature Challenge (CNC). The Challenge consists of a submission period from April 24-27, 2020, during which participants observe and submit pictures of wild plants, animals, and fungi using the free mobile app iNaturalist, and a crowdsource-based identification period from April 28-May 3, 2020. Results of the Challenge will be announced on May 4.

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 963,000 observations were made.

Recently, Challenge organizers released a statement saying “In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made some modifications to the City Nature Challenge to help keep our organizers and participants safe. Firstly, this year’s CNC is no longer a competition. Instead, we want to embrace the healing power of nature and encourage the collaborative aspect of the CNC. This will allow people to safely document biodiversity in whatever way they can, even from the safety of their own homes if necessary. We urge all participants to carefully follow public health guidelines provided by your local governments, as they are changing in real-time. Individual safety and public health are our utmost priority. Please refer to our COVID-19 FAQ page for more information.”

This year marks the first 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 for interested participants.