Despite the numerous effects the COVID 19 pandemic poses on public life, the 5th City Nature Challenge (CNC) was held worldwide from 24-27 April 2020. In the Krems area and the World Heritage region of Wachau, too, around 30 nature enthusiasts were drawn outdoors, where they took photographs documenting over 800 observations of local flora and fauna - from the green lizard to the Milky Star. The Biodiversity Hub at Danube University Krems organized the participation in the CNC.
For the observation of urban nature, the CNC is a global Citizen Science Event, in which for the first time also three cities in Austria took part. The cities/regions of Krems and Wachau, Graz and Vienna were among the participants. During the four-day observation period, the population reported sightings of wild animals, plants and fungi on the iNaturalist observation platform. The California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum Los Angeles County organize the City Nature Challenge since 2016.
41,165 participants have collectively documented 815,258 observations of more than 32,600 different species worldwide. A total of 244 cities from 40 countries took part in the friendly competition as to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, usually held as a competition, this year the event organizers viewed to worldwide cooperation in observing and documenting nature in urban areas.
The cities with the most observations were Cape Town (South Africa), Dallas/Fort Worth (USA) and San Francisco (USA). Most species were observed in Houston (USA), followed by Cape Town (South Africa) and Hong Kong (China). San Francisco (USA), on the other hand, was able to motivate most participants to take part, followed by Los Angeles County (USA) and Metropolitan Area (USA).
The cities of Krems, Graz, Vienna are committed project partners of CNC 2020
For Krems-Stadt and the World Heritage region Wachau, 30 participants documented 841 observations of wild animals, plants and fungi. Over 350 different species were recorded for the region. Thus, in an international comparison, Krems & Wachau ranked successfully in the second third of the participating cities.
Among others, 238 plant species, 33 butterfly species, 23 bird species, 4 amphibian and reptile species and 4 mammal species were observed. The most frequently sighted were the Eastern Green Lizard, the Celandine, the Meadow Sage, the Forest Board Game and the Cypress Spurge.
Besides Krems & Wachau, Graz and Vienna also took part in the City Nature Challenge. Together 239 observers documented 10,290 observations and over 2,000 different species were surveyed. Throughout Austria Graz made the most observations (5,045), followed by Vienna with 4,404 observations.
Tanja Lumetsberger project collaborator in the Biodiversity Hubat Danube University Krems, was responsible for the implementation of the CNC in the Krems and Wachau region: "Our warm thanks go to all participants for their great support during the challenge and their great observations! We appreciate very much that so many people followed their interest in nature observations despite the restrictions affecting us all this spring. As a result, the participants became project partners in science and at the same time - I hope - found some relaxation and distraction in the great outdoors".
Networking of knowledge and experts
The Biodiversity Hub at Danube University Krems was established in 2017. It serves to network universities and research institutions, as well as politics, administration and NGOs to strengthen synergies and inter- and transdisciplinary research activities in the field of biodiversity and its value for society. Its activities are based on the implementation of numerous regional, national and international agreements and guidelines on biodiversity, including the Biodiversity Convention, the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2020, or the Austrian Biodiversity Strategy 2020+.