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City Nature Challenge 2021

City nature challenge

Help shine a spotlight on eastern Melbourne’s outstanding urban biodiversity by joining us in the 2021 City Nature Challenge, running from Friday 30 April to Monday 3 May 2021.

About the City Nature Challenge

The City Nature Challenge is a global event organised by the California Academy of Sciences and the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum.

This year Maroondah has joined forces with seven other Councils in Eastern Melbourne (Boroondara, Greater Dandenong, Knox, Manningham, Monash, Stonnington and Whitehorse), as well as the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria and the Entomological Society of Victoria, to compete against over 350 cities from around the world under the collaborative banner ‘Melbourne - Eastern Metropolitan area’.

During the Challenge’s four-day observation period from 30 April to 3 May, the Maroondah community are encouraged to find, photograph and document the native fauna and flora that lives and grows in our neighbourhoods.

Working together to find and document nature in our area helps scientists better understand and protect our native flora and fauna. By participating in the City Nature Challenge, not only do you learn more about your local nature, but you can also make Maroondah a better place to live – for you and other species!

Maroondah (and the other local councils) will also be providing a number of guided walks through local reserves during the four-day City Nature Challenge period, led by local experts or people familiar with a reserve, to help people discover nature in those reserves, and to log their observations in iNaturalist. Once details of the guided walks are finalised, they will be added to the “Get involved in the Challenge” section below.

To get involved in the Challenge you will need to download the free iNaturalist app (from the Apple App Store or Google Play) and create your profile, look out for wild plants and animals in your local area, then use the app to record an image or two of each different plant or animal you can find (your phone’s GPS will record their location), and log your observations onto the iNaturalist online platform. 

Alternatively, you can log the locations (by dropping a pin on a map) and your digital photos of the observations you made, back home on your computer via the iNaturalist website. The main benefit of this method is that you can be more selective with the photos you upload.

You can log nature observations in iNaturalist anywhere, anytime. And no need to wait until the Challenge, you can start right now. 

Any observations you log within the eight council areas and during the four days of the Challenge, will be a contribution to the Melbourne - Eastern Metropolitan area project on the global scale, and to the Maroondah project at a local scale.

Identifying your observations

When you upload your observations, you can make an identification of each one to the extent of your knowledge. Once uploaded, iNaturalists from everywhere can see your observations and provide their own knowledge to further refine, or confirm, the identifications. So, you may only know what you have observed as a ‘butterfly’, but once uploaded it is very likely someone will be able to tell you the full species name of what you saw. 

To help people use the iNaturalist app and website, there will be two online information sessions featuring ecologist Dr Luis Mata. The free sessions will provide participants with an introduction to the platform and answer your questions: 

iNaturalist Training Session 1

Hosted by Manningham and Monash councils.

When: 7pm to 8.15pm, Tuesday 23 March 2021
Where: online event
Cost: free

This event is now complete. Missed the session? View the recording

iNaturalist Training Session 2

Hosted by Stonnington and Boroondara councils.

When: 6.30pm to 7.45pm, Tuesday 20 April 2021
Where: Online event
Cost: free

Book online

There are also several online tutorials available on the iNaturalist website

The iNaturalist platform will compile statistics on:

  • the numbers of different species observed
  • the number of observations
  • the number of observers.

Statistics will be compared across the 300 competing cities from around the world.

To keep track of how the Melbourne - Eastern Metropolitan Area is going against the other participating cities from around the world, visit the iNaturalist website

The same numbers will also enable Maroondah to have a friendly competition with our collaborating Councils. To keep track of how Maroondah is going compared to our neighbouring Councils, visit our page on the iNaturalist website

Over time the information provided (ie the observations of nature made by the community) will help build a rich picture of nature in Maroondah.

To help you discover some of the native plants and animals that can be found in Maroondah, we have organised a series of guided walks in local reserves, each led by someone with flora and fauna expertise or local knowledge of the reserve.

During these walks you will be assisted to find some of the nature in the reserve and encouraged to record observations of what you find in iNaturalist, so you can contribute to the City Nature Challenge.

Guided walks will take place at various times and locations around Maroondah from Friday 30 April to Monday 3 May. 

Register for a guided walk in Maroondah

Please remember the following before attending a guided walk

Looking after our community

  • Please do not attend if you are unwell or have been instructed to isolate or quarantine.
  • Contact tracing - scan QR code on arrival, or fill in sign-in sheet.
  • Please keep at least 1.5 metres distance between you and anyone you don’t live with whenever possible.
  • Please practice good hygiene such as washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds before arrival and coughing and sneezing into a tissue or your elbow.

Looking after you

  • Please dress for the prevailing weather conditions, and wear sturdy, closed footwear.
  • Please note that you will be walking outdoors on unmade, uneven tracks through bushland, and you may encounter stinging and biting insects, and tripping hazards such as fallen branches and potholes.

Looking after our reserves

  • Numbers for each walk will be limited to 20 people.
  • Please follow your guide’s instructions and stay on the tracks.
  • Before you arrive, please remove dirt/clay/soil from your footwear to prevent spread of forest diseases.

Not only is Maroondah running this series of guided walks for the City Nature Challenge between April 30 and May 3, other local participating councils include:

  • Manningham
  • Boroondara
  • Whitehorse
  • Monash
  • Greater Dandenong
  • Stonnington
  • Knox.

Please visit the City Nature Challenge website to find out what walks these councils have planned

Further information

To learn more about the City Nature Challenge, please visit the City Nature Challenge website


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