City Nature Challenge

Experience Nature in Your Backyard

We often think of nature as being a place we need to travel to in order to experience, whether it’s visiting a national park or hiking along a river or lake. But with the majority of people around the world living in cities, experiencing the wonders of nature in our own backyards may inspire us to more actively conserve it. That’s where the City Nature Challenge comes in.

What is the City Nature Challenge?

In April of 2018, over 65 cities will be entering into a global biodiversity challenge called the City Nature Challenge (CNC) to observe and identify as many species as possible. Earthwatch is helping to spearhead the Boston Area campaign. Last year, our collective efforts helped mobilize over 250 participants to record nearly 4,000 observations and 750 species for the Boston area. For the 2018 CNC campaign, we have set our goal to double our numbers—with over 500 people participating and 8,000 observations. We have an amazing team of partners to achieve these numbers, including Zoo New England, Encyclopedia of Life, University of Massachusetts, and Brandeis University, but we need your help to reach more people and record more observations. Participating is easy. You and your organization can help boost Boston to the top of the leaderboard by collecting data from April 27th through April 30th. It’s that easy (and fun!) to learn about the world we live in, and the wildlife we live alongside.


Earthwatch Event 

On Saturday, April 28th from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Earthwatch will host an event at Fresh Pond and Alewife Reservation in Cambridge, Massachusetts that is free and open to the public. Participants will use the iNaturalist app on their smartphones to record observations of as many species as possible during this time. All species count, and every observation helps! Visit the iNaturalist Earthwatch project page to learn more. Note that Earthwatch staff will offer iNaturalist trainings at the event. Just bring a phone, camera, or notepad and join us outside to explore nature with Earthwatch! 

Register here

Other Ways to Get Involved  

Calling all nature ambassadors! We need YOU to help photograph species throughout the greater Boston area this April. All you need to do to start submitting observations is to download and familiarize yourself with the iNaturalist app on your smartphone. You can also use your camera to capture images of the species you see, and upload them onto the iNaturalist website. Aim to capture high quality images; many of last year’s observations were research grade quality. Check out some of the species commonly observed around Massachusetts here. Be sure to spread the word about the CNC to your friends, families, and coworkers! 

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Contact Us!  

Feel free to contact us at with any questions or to learn more about the many ways to get involved! 

For More Information


Check out the full calendar of events from our partners around the greater Boston area.

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For more information, visit the official Boston Area City Nature Challenge website.

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Be more than a tourist

Experience hands-on science in some of the most astounding locations in the world.
Meet a community of like-minded travelers and return home with stories filled with adventure.

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Earthwatch depends on donations—above and beyond what we raise from volunteers who participate on our expeditions—in order to deliver our global conservation mission. In fact, volunteer contributions provide only half of the total resources Earthwatch needs to sustain over 40 field research expeditions, a wide variety of educational programs, corporate sustainability trainings, and more each year.