East Kootenay residents are invited to take part in the City Nature Challenge (CNC), taking place from April 29 to May 2, 2022.
The challenge asks residents to take photos of plants and wildlife in backyards, local parks and throughout the city and upload them to the free iNaturalist app. It is a citizen-science initiative used to track plants and animal species and helps to identify locations where invasive species are found.
Craig Stephani, Cranbrook Youth Coordinator with Invasive Species Council of BC (ISCBC), says that community science is for everyone and that the CNC is easy to participate in.
“Whether you are an avid naturalist or sidewalk stroller, you can participate in community science and collect data on the biodiversity in your city,” Stephani said.
When asked what the data that is collected is used for, Stephani gave a few specific examples.
“An observation for Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula) was recorded last summer near Panorama,” Stephani said. “This perennial is listed as one of the 100 worst invasive species on the planet by the Global Invasive Species Database. Leafy spurge can decrease rangeland diversity, threaten native plants and degrade wildlife habitat.”
Invasive species are being observed all across the province.
“In Abbotsford, an American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) was sighted last month. They are one of the largest frogs found in Canada with an appetite to match,” Stephani said. “They alter food webs in freshwater ecosystems by eating our native frogs, salamanders, turtles, snakes, and insects. This includes the Western painted turtle (Chrysemys picta bellii), a species of special concern that can been spotted in the Kootenays.”
Stephani explained that the CNC was created in 2016 by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and California Academy of Sciences. In Canada, the CNC is managed by the Canadian Wildlife Federation.
“Last year, the ISCBC launched our Community Science Network. We noticed that in previous years the only area in BC that participated in the City Nature Challenge was the Metro Vancouver area. However, there are motivated individuals all across BC who want to take action to learn more about and protect the natural spaces where we live, work and play. That is why we helped organize events across the province, including here in the East Kootenays,” Stephani explained.
April has grown to be known internationally as Citizen and Community Science Month, Stephani adds. Hence why the event is being held from April 29 to May 2.
“The event originally started in 2016 with the first-ever Citizen/Community Science Day,” Stephani said. “Participating in a four-day BioBlitz where people from all over the region, and the world, explore nature in their neighbourhoods and cities to find and document wildlife is an excellent way to end the month.”
To sign up for the iNaturalist app, simply visit inaturalist.ca from your browser or download iNaturalist from the Apple App store or Google Play store.
There will also be an online webinar on the iNaturalist website before the BioBlitz begins.
Stephani adds that observing through iNaturalist is just one of the pillars of ISCBC’s Community Science Network.
“Anyone can observe and report invasive species in BC through the free and easy to use ReportInvasivesBC app,” Stephani said.
For those wanting to learn more about invasive species and their impacts on BC’s biodiversity, go to bcinvasives.ca.
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