November 29, 2023


The complete history of the City Nature Challenge can be found here!

City Nature Challenge 2020 (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)

White-tailed Deer, Fish Creek Provincial Park. Photo: Matt Wallace