A number of urban areas across the UK will be participating in this year’s City Nature Challenge. This is an international event to promote wildlife recording and engage the public with wildlife in their urban area. Started in 2016 in the United States it quickly gained popularity and UK cities have been participating since 2018.

The City Nature Challenge 2020 takes place in two parts.

The key dates

Between Friday 24 and Monday 27 April as many people as possible will be asked to record the wildlife they see around them. This should be anything that is living and ‘wild’ – grasses, flowers, plants, trees, mosses, lichens, insects, spiders, beetles, amphibians, birds and mammals. It can also include evidence e.g. footprints, scat, nests.

In the second part, between Tuesday 28 April and Sunday 3 May, all these sightings need to be verified so that they can be included in the tally. This can be done remotely, so anyone across the UK can be involved in confirming these wildlife sightings.

The 10 UK cities / areas taking part this year are:

In 2019, seven UK cities took part and identified over 6000 species from 45,753 observations made by 1084 species.

City Observers Identifiers Species Observations
Bristol 351 530 1448 15,361
Glasgow 8 55 90 134
Leicester 47 156 831 4195
Liverpool Area 126 367 1065 12423
London 279 401 1106 5475
Greater Manchester 139 205 791 5099
North East Area 134 229 671 3066
1084 1943 6002 45,753


The full list of cities and links to the project pages is available on the City Nature Challenge 2020 website, where you can find out more about the individual city events and how to take part.

How are the sightings recorded?

The City Nature Challenge uses a free American developed tool iNaturalist to record sightings. The advantage of using this tool is that it is used by all the cities taking part across the world so that cities can compare their results. With around 30,000 registered users in the UK, who have have recorded nearly 600,000 observations, it is proving to be a popular tool. The disadvantage is that for a number of reasons including differing licensing rules and verification processes, it is not compatible with iRecord or the NBN Atlas.

What happens to the data?

Currently, iNaturalist shares all ‘research’ grade sightings with GBIF. In addition, the Biological Records Centre (BRC) has trialed importing records, including City Nature Challenge records, from iNaturalist into iRecord, but the differences between the systems made it difficult to fully address issues around verification and data flow. Transferring large scale datasets direct from iNaturalist into iRecord and/or the NBN Atlas is not possible at this time.