March 7, 2021

City Nature Challenge 2020

The Results Are In! (May 4, 2020)

Thank you to everyone that participated in City Nature Challenge 2020 Calgary Metropolitan Region! We had a great showing for only our second year involved in the annual global event. With an expanded area to explore, more eyes on the ground, in the air, and in the water, and the difficulties presented by the COVID-19 crisis, we are so grateful to the Calgary, Airdrie, Cochrane, Okotoks, and Chestermere naturalist communities for coming together and celebrating urban biodiversity. We are proud to share our cumulative CNC YYC 2020 results.

            CNC YYC 2020 had some truly outstanding finds and together we exceeded all of the 2019 results. The total number of observations made between April 24-27 was 5465 (compared to the 4458 in 2019), made by 239 observers (144 iNat contributors last year). At this time 55% of the observations submitted have reached Research Grade* with more to come as we comb through the submissions in the coming months. With so many observations coming in, Calgary has now surpassed 30,000 iNaturalist observations. View the project to see all the stats from this year’s event including the top observers.

*Research Grade observations are the highest level of data quality and enter into the scientific database that is free to use for research purposes. Captive/ Cultivate cannot reach Research Grade but remain on iNaturalist as biodiversity information.

            Remarkably, more than 755 species were documented in the Calgary region. This includes all wild organisms and “captive/cultivated” flora and fauna that people documented with photographs and audio clips. There was no shortage of incredible sightings. Some highlights include a backyard bobcat and prey (featured on the global CNC infographic), a downtown raccoon (rare in YYC), a bizarre oil beetle in Weaselhead park, storm water protozoans, an urban moose in Fish Creek, and a plethora of birds (111 species). Prairie Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla nuttalliana), often referred to as Prairie Crocus, was the most observed plant species and collected data offers insight into its confined urban range. There is lots more to be investigated, including how COVID-19 restrictions may have influenced the geography for people exploring urban nature. We will be sharing more information as it becomes available!

So how did we do in terms of other cities?

            This year was not a competition between cities but a conscious effort to further appreciation of urban nature around the globe…however, the iNaturalist CNC 2020 Project page provides comparative statistics for the 244 urban areas that participated in CNC 2020 (Calgary’s results put us in the top 50 cities). We congratulate the top performing cities: Cape Town (observations-34037), Houston-Galveston (Species-2974), and San Francisco Bay Area (Participants-2488).

           Of all Canadian cities, we are proud to say that CNC YYC achieved more observations, documented the most species, and engaged the most observers! Throughout CNC, Halifax and Ottawa-Gatineau were top contenders and we congratulate them on their outstanding performance. In fact, all of the participating Canadian Cities performed strongly highlighting the rich diversity that exists across the country.

            City Nature Challenge could not exist without the dedicated volunteers and organizers around the world. Thank you Alison Young, Lila Higgins, and Amy Jaecker-Jones at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, California Academy of Sciences, and iNaturalist for leading the charge on this global event.

            Locally, this would not be possible without the support of Nature Calgary and their continued effort to engage Calgarians of all ages with local nature. Thank you to the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Canadian Wildlife Federation for supporting local citizen science and conservation. We cannot say thank you enough to all of the local stewardship groups that protect our urban nature and helped support CNC YYC with promotion and a commitment to participate under the adversity of COVID-19. We look forward to working alongside you in the future and promoting education and a healthy relationship with local nature.


Matt Wallace (City Nature Challenge Calgary Organizer)

City Nature Challenge 2020: Calgary Metropolitan Region (January 2020)

April 24 – 27 Observation Period and Events
April 24 – May 3 Observation Uploads and Identifications

City Nature Challenge Calgary is happening April 24-27, 2020! Join the challenge to see how Calgary’s urban biodiversity stacks up to cities around the world. Calgary, Airdrie, Cochrane, Chestermere, and Okotoks will be under a total bioblitz and collaborate with cities 200+ other cities around the world to document urban biodiversity. Our local goal is to gather 10 000 observations of everything that lives in Calgary’s regional ecosystem.

This year we have expanded the CNC YYC boundaries to include Airdrie, Cochrane, Okotoks, and Chestermere. Any photos taken April 24-27 and uploaded to before May 3 (midnight) will automatically count towards the Calgary Region’s entry in City Nature Challenge 2020. The winning cities will be announced May 4!

COVID-19 Update: City Nature Challenge 2020 is still going on!

However, due to threat of COVID-19, we have had to modify CNC this year. Learn more under the COVID19 FAQ page.

In keeping with public health recommendations we have cancelled our community events for CNC 2020. As CNC YYC is a decentralized event, there are still ways to participate independently and here’s how:

How can I still participate in Calgary?

  • Document species in and outside of your home. You can test out iNaturalist by adding all of your house plants. Make sure to mark them as “Captive/cultivated” and mark your location privacy as “obscured” when you post.
  • Conduct a Backyard bioblitz by documenting every species living on your property. How many do you have? Investigate your gardens, document birds at the feeders, capture critters using your yard, look in the compost, or even leave a light on in the evening to attract some insects!
  • Walk With a Purpose through your neighborhood and document the types of plants and animals live there!
  • Explore a nearby stand of trees or area you’ve always seen but never visited
  • Visit your favorite park and document as many species as possible.
  • Complete as many City-Wide Challenges as you can.
  • Check Out the iNaturalist project page and help to identify other’s observations

If you intend to participate, these are the precautionary measures that MUST be taken:

  • Stay home if you are feeling unwell or are under mandatory quarantine!
  • Wash your hands before, during, and after adventuring!! Bring sanitizer!
  • Practice Physical Separation and do not cluster! Always exercise a minimum of 2 meters from others (you’ll also be able to cover more ground!)
  • Do not share: binoculars, scopes, guidebooks, magnifying glasses, cameras, and especially phones.
  • BE SAFE and WATCH OUT: for other people on foot, bikes, scooters, and in vehicles. Take precaution and avoid areas that seem unsafe.
  • Air-cheers binoculars or air high-fives for cool sightings and greetings!
  • Remember, Parks are for everyone’s enjoyment. Use only the designated pathways and trails. Please take pictures, not plants or animals. Respect wildlife and keep your distance. Pack out what you pack in and use designated garbage bins. Keep your dogs on a leash and pick up after them. Respect the tranquility of other visitors by keeping conversation and music quiet.

Get Outside and Discover Urban Nature!

Nature is everywhere in the city. Be curious about what local biodiversity means. By mapping where nature is in the Calgary region we can begin to understand why, how, and where flora and fauna exist in Calgary. There is plenty to learn just through observing nature in your garden, your alleyways, visiting your local parks, and exploring areas of the city you’ve never been to!

Document Everything Wild!

Take photographs and make audio recordings using your phone, tablets, and cameras. Take as much information as you need so that it can be identified. For example: Take multiple photos of plants (habitat, leaves, flowers, fruit, etc.).

Share Your Observations!

Post your observations to using the app on your phone or online. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s educational, and helps scientists around the world study biodiversity. This is how we begin to understand the patterns and trends of urban nature!

City Nature Challenge 2020 Global Cities:

Click to find a participating city anywhere in the world and visit their projects to learn more. (Note: Participating cities are subject to change due to COVID-19.)

Join the CNC 2020: Calgary Metropolitan Project Page and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up-to-date on news and events!