The City Nature Challenge 2019, happening between April 26-29, will help us find out!
In 2018, Hong Kong showcased it’s amazing biodiversity in the first international City Nature Challengeand shocked the world by ranking 4th out of 68 cities, and FIRST out of all non-US cities, for number of species identified. 2,932 species were identified in just 4 days!
In 2019, more than 160 cities on six continents will be taking part, asking residents and visitors of urban areas to explore nature all around them and document the species that they find using the free app, iNaturalist.
Outward Bound Hong Kong is proud to collaborate with many Hong Kong organisations, including WWF-HK, The Nature Conservancy and Plastic Free Seas, to help Hong Kong win this year! Find out more information and see which cities are participating in 2019 by visitingthe official City Nature Challenge website.
Started in 2016 for the first-ever Citizen Science Day, the citizen science teams at Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and California Academy of Sciences dreamed up the City Nature Challenge as a fun way to capitalize on their home cities’ friendly rivalry and hold a citizen science event around urban biodiversity. The first City Nature Challenge was an eight-day competition between Los Angeles and San Francisco, engaging residents and visitors in documenting nature to better understand urban biodiversity. Over 20,000 observations were made by more than 1000 people in a one-week period, cataloging approximately 1600 species in each location, including new records for both areas.
In 2017 the City Nature Challenge went national, and in 2018, the CNC became an international event where 68 cities motivated more than 17,000 people to upload 431,000 observations of nature to iNaturalist in the four days (see 2018 resultshere).
Here in Hong Kong, participating is easy! all you have to do is:
Shaun Martin, National Geographic Explorer and the Hong Kong Co-Ordinator of the City Nature Challenge, also sees parallels with Hong Kong’s policy on biodiversity. “The City Nature Challenge’s objectives closely mirror action points laid out in Hong Kong’s Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (released by the Environment Bureau in December 2016) especially areas that refer to promoting community involvement and improving knowledge.
In 2018, more than 30 local organisations, institutions and schools were involved, including Plastic Free Seas, Conservation International HK, Ecology and Biodiversity Society HKUSU, HKU, Swire Institute of Marine Science, HKU,The Nature Conservancy HK, WWF-HK , Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden, with many organising special activities over the four days. Many used this as a platform to highlight conservation issues and biodiversity threats from reclamation and housing.
For many participants, it was their first time to use the iNaturalist app yet many rare and endemic species were logged. This included the treasured incense tree, Aquilaria sinensis, the very rare Romer’s Tree Frog, and migratory birds such as the Chinese Egret and Black-Faced Spoonbill. The community of amateur and professional ecologists on iNaturalist helped to identify these observations which facilitated further engagement with experts.
There is general consensus among all partner organisations that this can be the start of many more collaborative territory-wide biodiversity engagement exercises and that Hong Kong citizens will feel empowered to continue to observe and record the amazing biodiversity that’s on their own doorstep.