The truth is, I have very limited knowledge of local plant species, which makes it embarrassing for me to correct another knowledge-lacking friend who identifies every flowery bush as “lilac.” But this won’t stop us from joining the annual BiodiverCity Challenge this weekend.
Inspired by the City Nature Challenge, the Alberta BiodiverCity Challenge invites residents to take photos of local animals, plants, insects, mushrooms and fungi, then submit them to the citizen science app iNaturalist. This is the third year the Edmonton region is participating in the nature observation challenge.
“It’s a fun challenge competition among cities in Alberta, and we’ll look at the total number of species people recognize,” says Steph Weizenbach, program director of Nature Alberta. “The goal is to connect citizens to the natural surroundings in the city.”
The iNaturalist app also has an AI species detection function. With one close-up shot, users get suggestions on the identified species, with options to share the observation to the community.
“Last year there were over 3,000 sightings shared on iNaturalist during the BiodiverCity Challenge in Edmonton, with approximately 850 species identified in the region. All the shared observations are shown in the explore map on the app. So if you see a cool butterfly in your backyard, chances are you can discover a whole bunch in your neighbourhood.”
In honour of this year’s Challenge, Nature Alberta also teams up with Root for Trees for a family-friendly Saturday tree planting event. This outdoor nature adventure includes a guided tree planting experience, a citizen science nature walk, weed pulling and adding observations to the BiodiverCity photo challenge.
Sign up for the tree planting field trip on June 11, or first download the iNaturalist app and take part in the BiodiverCity Challenge, June 9 – 12.