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Step-by-step guide to participation:

1) Download the free iNaturalist app onto your phone or tablet. You can also use Seek by iNaturalist to get identification of plants and animals using image recognition technology, however for observations to count towards City Nature Challenge, Seek should be connected to an iNaturalist account. See below for Seek information. 


iNaturalist is a citizen science platform that encourages users to upload location-linked photographs of their local biodiversity to a global database that users around the world can access and identify observations. iNaturalist is a joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and National Geographic Society. iNaturalist observations are a great way to learn about local wildlife and contribute to scientific understanding of urban biodiversity and conservation work. 

Apple app store image
Google Play image

2) Make an account. 


In the iNaturalist app:

The first time you open the iNaturalist app, there is a quick tutorial. At the end of the tutorial, select "Sign up now!"

Provide an email address, make a username, and create a password. Then click "Sign up".

On your computer: 

Use a web browser to navigate to
Click on the "Sign up" link in the very top right of the web page

Provide an email address, make a username, and create a password. Confirm that you are not a robot, give the proper permission (the first one is required), and click "Create an Account".

Set Your Licensing:

If you set your Licensing to CC0, then researchers all over the world will have open access to your observations. This is the most useful setting to contribute to scientific researcher!

How to:

Go to Account Settings, under your profile (upper right of screen on computer/upper left menu on phone)

Select "Content & Display from the menu.

Scroll down to find "Licensing" and select "No Copyright (CC0)" 

Image of Public Domain Copyright

Set Your iNaturalist Affiliation (if you have not already connected with

This benefits researchers within the UK by allowing them to see more information about your observation. 

Go to "Account Settings".

Select "Account" from the menu.

Find "iNaturalist Network Affiliation" and scroll down the menu to select "iNaturalist United Kingdom".

3) Take photos (or record sounds) of any WILD plant or animal (fungi, too!) in your garden, street, local park or anywhere around your community. Please do NOT take photos of domestic plants (potted plants) and animals (pets) or other human beings. Be aware of your privacy settings if you are making observations near your home or do not want to share your location. You can set observation location to "obscure" (gives a large radius) or to "private" (only limited people can see it).  

Test your knowledge of what is a good observation with the quiz by Anne Lewis (CC4.0). 

4) Identify as many of your observations as you can. You don't have to be a nature expert! The iNaturalist app will give suggestions and an online community of scientists and wildlife experts will verify identifications and give advice. Taking good photos will be key to being able to make good identifications. See the hints below!

Click the icon to download this easy-to-follow tutorial to use and share:

If you have questions or are struggling to use iNaturalist, there is a lot of assistance available on the iNaturalist website Help page. There is also a very good video from iNaturalist on making observations and identifying available on Youtube.  


If you would like to use Seek by iNaturalist to connect with nature, it is a great resource and is designed with higher privacy settings than iNaturalist, so good for use by kids. For Seek by iNaturalist observations to be useful in the City Nature Challenge, the Seek app needs to be connected to an iNaturalist account.

  • A teacher or parent can create an iNaturalist account (see steps above).

  • Download Seek app. 

  • Kids can log into the iNaturalist account through the Seek app on their phones.

  • When you make an observation in Seek, there is an option to upload the observation to iNaturalist. Click "Post to iNaturalist" and let experts all over the world help you to identify what you saw!

Any iNaturalist observations taken in the York city-region (see map below) between 26-29 April, 2024 

will be AUTOMATICALLY included in the York City Nature Challenge project.

No need to wait until April, start practicing making observations now!

This image shows the boundary for the City Nature Challenge in York
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