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Barrie uniting with cities around the world for nature challenge

In Barrie
Apr 29th, 2023
The City of Barrie will be joining more than 400 cities from across 43 countries to participate in the 2023 City Nature Challenge. | 

From BarrieToday, April 28, 2023
By Nikki Cole

Barrie will be joining more than 400 cities from 43 countries in a massive effort to track and showcase global biodiversity.

The 2023 City Nature Challenge (CNC) is designed as a “friendly international citizen science event” to connect people to nature while helping monitor wildlife species distribution around the globe, according James Pagé, species-at-risk and biodiversity specialist with the Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF).

“I’m thrilled with the tremendous growth in participation as this data will be invaluable to scientific research,” he said in a news release.

As part of the collaboration with CWF, 43 cities — including Barrie — have united to represent Canada in the collaborative global competition to see which community can track the highest number of wildlife observations between Friday, April 28 and Monday, May 1, with results scheduled to be announced after May 8.

The fact that Barrie is participating in this challenge is “amazing,” said Pollinate Barrie co-founder Ashley Hammell.

“Conservation science has a data problem,” Hammell told BarrieToday. “There isn’t enough funding or researchers to get the quality numbers we need to track the populations of living things as they respond to climate change, habitat loss, urbanization, etc. Initiatives like this help to fill that data gap for researchers and it also helps connect people with the plants, animals and insects that they share their city with.

“Our decisions in the suburbs feel separate from the natural world, but they actually impact it a lot, and this initiative helps to make that connection more clear — both to citizens and to scientists,” Hammell added.

This is the first year Barrie will participate in this event, parks program co-ordinator Stephanie Wideman said in a March 29 memo to city councillors and staff, noting the CNC aligns with council’s 2022-26 strategic priorities to create and foster programs and opportunities to support community wellness and to expand and maximize access to parks and recreation opportunities.

“Development services staff welcome all members of the community to get involved in the free program,” she noted, adding a kick-off activity is scheduled for Friday, beginning at 10 a.m., at Sunnidale Park to start the community observations.

Using a camera or the free iNaturalist app, residents are encouraged to upload species observations and sounds to the iNaturalist platform that become part of an international database of biodiversity.

“During the City Nature Challenge and year-round, individuals can help scientists by contributing valuable observations for biodiversity research and conservation,” Pagé said. “We live in a big country and scientists can’t be everywhere, but by using smartphones and digital cameras as tools, iNaturalist helps everyday citizens connect with nature while helping to conserve it.”

While Canadian cities will compete against each other to see which one can engage the most people and accumulate the highest number of observations, the collective number will represent Canada’s total in the international competition.

In 2022, almost 1.7 million observations were made and more than 56,000 species were identified including more than 1,300 rare, endangered or threatened species. In Canada, 76,984 observations were made of 4,551 species.

This year’s event runs in two parts: recording observations from April 28 to May 1 and identifying observations from May 2 to 7.

You can also contribute using iNaturalist all year by joining CWF’s Observation Nation project.

Read the article here

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