This year also the entire territory of the metropolitan city of Rome, between 28 April and 1 May, will be involved in the City Nature Challenge, an international competition to document biodiversity and spread the culture of environmental protection, with the coordination of the Accademia Nazionale delle Scienze detta dei XL. Initiated in 2016 on the first Citizen Science Day by the California Academy of Sciences and the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, the City Nature Challenge (CNC) has grown into one of the largest citizen science world championships for knowledge of biodiversity, a competition to document the presence of plants and animals in city territories. In 2022, the initiative involved 445 cities from 47 countries on all continents, with an important participation of European cities (Athens, Berlin, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, London, Luxembourg, Madrid, Paris, Prague, Vienna, Zagreb), with over 67,000 participants and almost 1,700,000 observations relating to more than 50,000 species. Victory went to La Paz, Bolivia, one of many competing Latin American cities.
THE COMPETITION IN ROME
With the methods indicated on the iNaturalist platform (accessible for free as an App or on a computer) citizens or organized groups can document the presence of plants or animals living in the city with photos, videos or audio files (pets, captive animals are not allowed and cultivated plants).
This is a particularly important opportunity to involve citizens, families and young people to understand the meaning and value of biodiversity in urban ecosystems and beyond. In the interactive map made available by the Academy, the meeting places for citizens are gradually identified, which are planned by the various institutions, parks and associations participating in the project.
With the numerous institutional and scientific partners who have joined the project launched by the Accademia dei XL in Rome, an attempt has been made to maximize the search for different species by seeking the widest possible variety of terrestrial and aquatic habitats.
Consequently, in addition to city parks, the opportunities offered by coastal lagoon environments, such as the Torre Flavia nature reserve, or the exquisitely marine ones were considered, involving teams of divers to photograph marine fauna in the protected area of the Tor Paterno shallows. The species of fish and crustaceans object of the small-scale fishing of Civitavecchia and Anzio will not be overlooked. The inland water habitats will be represented by Lake Bracciano and the Tevere Farfa nature reserve. For terrestrial ecosystems, areas with typically Mediterranean vegetation will be involved such as the presidential reserve of Castelporziano, or the LIPU oases of Ostia and Castel di Guido, the hilly environments well represented by the reserve of Monte Catillo and Monte Soratte, up to mountain environments present in the boundaries of the metropolitan city of Rome such as those included in the parks of the Lucretili and Simbruini mountains. Finally, there will be underground habitats for the search for troglophilous species in natural caves and the innumerable artificial cavities present in the area.
CNC 2023 will take place in 2 parts:
28 April – 1 May 2023 when it will be necessary to commit to photographing plants and wild animals;
2 May – 7 May 2023 when the sessions for the identification of what has been found will be held.
To this end, the Academy and the scientific partners will organize seminars and online sessions aimed at the taxonomic validation of the observations made by 1 May.
The overall results will be announced on Monday 8 May 2023.