Families from across Bath and North East Somerset are being urged to take part in this year’s City Nature Challenge by recording all the nature and wildlife they can find over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend.

The annual global event, which takes place in 400 cities, is a chance for all residents to contribute to a worldwide study of trees, plants and wildlife to help shape conservation efforts and support scientific research and land management.

This year’s challenge takes place between Friday 30 April and Monday 3 May.

Councillor Paul Crossley, cabinet member for Community Services, explained, “Accurate information of what wildlife is on the increase and what is in decline is an important tool in helping to tackle the ecological emergency.  Records for Bath and North East Somerset suggest some worrying trends with the numbers of some species falling sharply over the last 20 years. Other species though, like the Marsh Fritillary butterfly, have recently been rediscovered so this type of citizen science research is an effective way for people to have a big impact on scientific knowledge.

“Anyone can get involved and you don’t need to be a wildlife expert; you can search your garden, street, local park, school grounds or carry out your observations as you stroll along footpaths in our wonderful countryside. When you look, I’m sure you’ll be amazed at what you find in your local area.”

Last year, during the first lockdown, more than 8,500 observations were made across the region and this year it’s hoped residents will submit even more.

As well as contributing to scientific research those taking part can also reap personal benefits. Becky Reynolds, Director of Public Health for Bath and North East Somerset, said, “Being outdoors and recording wildlife helps you be active, learn something, take notice, connect with others and give – the five ways to wellbeing.”

You can join in the City Nature Challenge by downloading the iNaturalist app, taking a photo and recording what you see. The app will help you identify a species, so you don’t have to be an expert to take part. See it, snap it, share it – it’s that simple.

Matt Postles, Deputy Chief Executive of The Natural History Consortium, which is organising the event in Bristol and Bath, said, “The brilliant thing about the City Nature Challenge is that you can take part anywhere, whether it’s your local park, favourite green space, in your garden or on your balcony.  

“And it’s something that everyone can get involved in – you don’t have to be an expert, just be out and about over the four days of the Challenge sharing what you see.  It’s an opportunity to contribute to a really important global study, as well as helping to support work taking place locally.  The more we know the more we can to do support the natural world and make sure it thrives and survives alongside urban development.

“Although there is an element of competition in the Challenge, with each city keen to win the accolade of recording the most observations, it’s also about collaboration, with everyone working together for a common aim – to map as much of the natural world as possible. We’re hoping to have a record number of people take part this year – sharing all they have learned about their local areas over the past year.” 

You can find out more about how to take part at www.citynaturechallenge.org.uk

There is a free information / training session about City Nature Challenge on Friday 23 April, 3-4pm . To register visit https://www.bnhc.org.uk/festival-of-nature-type/city-nature-challenge/