Most shelter-at-home orders allowed for people to visit national parks or nature preserves, but when too many people starting visiting these places, governments started restricting access to them as well. And although it’s frustrating to be separated from the great outdoors, staying home has caused scientists and civilians alike to shift the perception of what “nature” really means, promoting them to find new, hyper-local ways to appreciate it.
That’s good timing too because each April, cities around the world take part in what is known as the City Nature Challenge. For three days, the global event encourages regular people to look for wildlife in their communities and post observations onto the app iNaturalist, netting everything from daddy-long-legs and dogwood trees to rare orchids and red-faced warblers. Species are then tallied up for each city. Whether it’s a bug under the sink or a spider in the garden, it counts as nature.
Many cities such as Portland and New York are already making moves to reclaim street space and turn it into great areas for pedestrians, but with the crisis exposing how little access some people have to green spaces, scientists hope it will shake policymakers to do more to incorporate nature into cities.
Want to take part in the upcoming City Nature challenge? Click here.