BURNABY (NEWS 1130) — People looking for a way to make their pandemic walks a little more interesting might want to consider a new initiative from Metro Vancouver Regional Parks.
For the first time, people exploring four regional parks in Surrey and Richmond will be able to participate in an international, online competition called the City Nature Challenge that encourages people to find and document plants and animals. The participating parks are Iona Beach, Tynehead, Surrey Bend and Minnkehada and the challenge kicks off April 30.
The winner is the city that can “gather the most observations of nature, find the most species, and engage the most people,” according to the website.
Zoey Slater with the regional district says an app called iNaturalist is the only tool participants need in order to join.
“People go around and they take photos of different plants and animals, and the app actually helps people to be able to ID those plants and animals, even if they can’t identify them themselves,” she says.
The district is hosting a webinar on April 22 to help get people started by explaining what the challenge is and how to use the app.
Take part in the City Nature Challenge
In May, cities around the world will be competing to see who can make the most…
Explorers and “citizen scientists” can set out with their bubble, or join a small guided tour with a park interpreter.
Slater says even though regional parks are seeing record numbers of visitors, it’s important to think of new ways to get people excited about exploring nature.
“We’re trying to have some fun and interesting new ways to get people outdoors, and learning about nature because the purpose of regional parks is all about protecting our natural areas but it’s also to provide our communities with opportunities to connect,” she explains.
“Things have been a little bit more challenging and we’re always trying to adapt to the provincial health orders and things like that and we’re adapting our programming, all the time but we are definitely trying to keep programming available to people all throughout the year.”
There’s no prize for winning aside from bragging rights, but Slater says she hopes more cities will join the challenge to encourage some friendly competition in the region.
“I definitely could see moving forward this being an annual event that could really grow, and be really cool. It’d be wonderful if other cities jumped on board, and participated,” she says.