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Sussex staff help bring the City Nature Challenge to The Living Coast

The City Nature Challenge is coming to the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere (The Living Coast) for the first time, thanks to the efforts of staff at the University of Sussex. 

The challenge, which takes place between 24 and 27 April 2020, aims to help connect people with local nature by discovering and recording as much wildlife as possible over the four-day period. Residents within the Living Coast will be competing with more than 250 other locations around the world. 

As a flagship event of Nature 2020, staff at both the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton are part of the local organising team, which is now looking for individuals, community groups and nature organisations to take part.  

Dr Chris Sandom, Senior Lecturer in Biology at the University of Sussex, said: “Participation in the City Nature Challenge is flexible based on what you or your organisation is interested in and have the capacity to do. People can make their own wildlife observations, or host an event within their community. Local events will be a brilliant way to get everyone involved and exploring the fantastic and varied nature on our doorstep.” 

Dr Rachel White, Senior Lecturer in Ecology & Conservation at the University of Brighton, said: “We are really pleased to be bringing the City Nature Challenge to The Living Coast, and we’re encouraging everyone to take part - residents and visitors, young and old, experienced naturalists and curious beginners. Working together we can hopefully make The Living Coast the top scorer in the UK!” 

Using the free iNaturalist App, people can take photos of any wildlife discovered within the Biosphere region. This can be any wild plant, animal, fungi, slime mould, or any other evidence of life including fur, tracks, scat, shells and carcasses. iNaturalist then counts the number of observations, species identified, and iNaturalist observers who take part to measure how successful each region has been.  

Sarah Dobson, The Living Coast Biosphere Programme Manager, said: “The event targets both rural and urban areas. We want observations to represent the full diversity of our Biosphere – land, freshwater, coastal and marine! You can search your garden, local park, school ground, nature reserve, beach – there are endless possibilities. Nature exists in every city, and one of the best ways to study it is by connecting scientists and the community through citizen science. As global human populations become increasingly concentrated in cities, it’s more important than ever to document urban biodiversity and help ensure the future of our wildlife.” 

Individuals, community groups and nature organisations are encouraged to host events either to log sightings (between 24 and 27 April) or to identify species (between 24 April and 3 May). Results will be announced on 4 May.  

If you and/or your organisation would like to be involved in running an event, you can register it here:  

For further information please visit or email

By: Stephanie Allen
Last updated: Friday, 14 February 2020