Atlanta City Nature Challenge 2020

As Georgia’s Shelter-in-Place order extends through April, it is easy to feel trapped at home. Getting outdoors for exercise is essential for human health, and opens up opportunities to learn about the environment around you. Connecting with nature can go beyond simply taking a walk in your local park or greenspace. A great way to further connect with nature is to learn some of the plants and wildlife that live among us, including those in your own yard.

April is Global Community Science Month, bringing awareness to the research conducted by the general public which leads to advances in the scientific community. One special event that takes place is the City Nature Challenge, an international community science initiative lasting from April 24 – 27. The City Nature Challenge is a worldwide bioblitz, encouraging individuals and families to contribute to ongoing community science efforts by recording their city’s biodiversity. Participants can log observations from anywhere, including local parks or greenspaces, while on a walk through the neighborhood, or even in a backyard. This year, Trees Atlanta is teaming up with Fernbank Museum and several other local organizations to participate in the Atlanta City Nature Challenge. Join us for some community science fun!


Photo: Missouri Department of Conservation


Observations for the City of Atlanta and surrounding counties (Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, and Rockdale) can be reported through the free social network iNaturalist. The app is a great tool for recording encounters with flora and fauna in a particular place at a particular time. Joining is free, and users can post photos of the plants and animals they observe while iNaturalist will suggest possible identification options. After posting, there is an extensive network of amateur and trained scientists who can add identification suggestions to posts. Check out this video for a tutorial on installing the app and recording observations.

We’d love to see your observations on social media! Use #citynaturechallenge and #citynaturechallengeATL, and tag @fernbankmuseum for a chance to get featured.


Tips for posting observations:
  • Take clear pictures.
  • Upload multiple photos to the same post. Take photos featuring different parts of the organism such as the flowers, leaves, bark, etc.
  • Take pictures close up, when safe. Try to avoid a photo of a large tree from far away, as this will make it difficult to identify.
  • Try to focus on wild plants and animals. If you know that what you’re photographing is not wild, mark it as captive/cultivated.
  • If you do not know what you have observed, that is okay! You can post your observation without identification, or can identify it generally as simply “plants,” “insects,” etc.


When participating in this event, please observe all social distancing guidelines. Although the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum is a wonderful place for nature observations, during the current public health emergency, we discourage recreational use of this area. For further information, please refer to the Atlanta BeltLine’s guidance on usage.

Keep up to date on information about Atlanta’s City Nature Challenge and learn more here.


Published April 15, 2020

Written by Grace Manning