UK discovering nature in lockdown

Now that the final results are in from the City Nature Challenge, we can announce that the UK’s final tally from this year’s event stands at:

  • 71,185 Observations
  • 3,425 Species
  • 1,207 Identifiers
  • 4,536 Observers

In this lockdown year, ten cities across the UK put aside their competitive spirits and joined forces to encourage everyone to get a bit closer to nature on their doorsteps with wildlife observations submitted to iNaturalist. The UK joined nearly 250 city regions worldwide for four days of intense recording from windows, parks and during daily outdoor exercise. Following the recording, the UK community came together for an online ‘DataBlitz’ event to help identify the photos that had streamed in during the challenge.

At the DataBlitz, many of the UK cities reported a rise in the number of people taking part over the weekend compared to previous years and many people who lived outside the city regions felt part of the UK effort. Despite it not being a competition this year a UK city managed to get the most observations in Europe – well done Birmingham!

Taking part in Nottingham

As the NBN Trust Secretariat is based in Nottingham, we were keen to get involved in this year’s event, so, Giselle, the NBN Trust’s Business Development Officer, helped support the event by being a lead organiser for the City.

Over one hundred people took part in Nottingham’s first entry into the competition, which was organised by the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust City Local Group and Ignite!, with support from Nottingham City Council and the NBN Trust.

Over 2700 observations were made by over 100 observers in Nottingham city over the weekend, including 673 different species. Out of the ten areas across the UK that took part, with Birmingham topping the table for the number of observations and species and Bristol and Bath having the most number of observers, Nottingham was the smallest city that took part in the UK, but held its own, recording the most observations, species and observers per square kilometre.

The most common recordings were of blackbirds, cow parsley and herb robert, regularly spotted at this time of year, as well as zebra jumping spider and farinose cartilage lichen. There was also one photograph of a European Orchard Bee, a solitary bee which was first recorded in the south east of Britain in 2017, and which could be the first time one has been spotted in Nottingham.

Martin Willis from the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust said, “We’re really pleased with the response to our first ever entry into the City Nature Challenge. Records were uploaded from all over the city, with photographs of birds, plants, fungi, insects and mammals, celebrating the rich biodiversity of our city”.

The original plans for public events and work with local schools, supported by the Heritage Lottery, had to be postponed because of the lockdown, but the organisers transformed the competition into something people could do at home.

“In stressful and uncertain times like these, we see that connecting with nature is something that helps our wellbeing and mental health, as well as being something that we can learn about with our children about while they’re away from school”.

International City Nature Challenge

The City Nature Challenge originally began as a competition between San Francisco and Los Angeles in 2016, and has now grown into an international competition with over 200 cities taking part. Whilst the majority of public events were not able to go ahead due to the coronavirus pandemic, over 41,000 people still look part worldwide, recording over 800,000 observations and 32,000 species. The recordings made as part of the City Nature Challenge will enable researchers to better understand changes in biodiversity.

Find out more about the UK effort at

Or the international challenge at

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