Margot Sakson

How biodiverse is your garden? Take part in the Nature Observation Marathon

The sixth Nature Observation Marathon will take place on 10-11 June. You can register your site until 1 June. 

Focusing on the beauty and wildlife of gardens over five days, the Nature Festival culminates in a nature marathon - an exciting, adventurous day in nature or a few hours in your garden counting species. The nature marathon is based on the BioBlitz format, which identifies as many species of wildlife as possible in each area over a given period. 

The number of nature observations made during the Nature Observation Marathon has increased yearly. Last year, more than 7,000 observations were made at 42 different sites - 17 on private land and 25 on public land. Also, a species new to Estonia has been found in the last two years - the mite Fragariocoptes setiger in 2021 and the Sciaroidea Mycomya denmax in 2022. "This year, we hope to increase the numbers of previous years," said Veljo Runnel, the marathon's organiser. 

Anyone who wants to learn more about the biodiversity of an area or their backyard is welcome to participate. It's easy to participate: observe in a private garden, register your observation area on the eBiodiversity website by 1 June, and monitor and record as many species as possible during the marathon. This year's focus is on gardens, so we expect private gardens all over Estonia to be registered as observation sites. "I hope that the choice of themes for the festival will help highlight each garden's uniqueness. It doesn't matter how big the garden is because the value of a garden can be something else: a garden can be our nourishment, a place of beauty, or a place to preserve nature," explains Kaarin Hein, the festival's project manager." As there have been no sightings from the islands before, we are also encouraging islanders to participate in the marathon," added Runnel. "But if you can't register your site but still want to participate - you can do the observations in public areas." 

There are several public areas: somewhere you can make observations on your own and others where you can participate in a programme of activities alongside your observations. The registered sites are available on the eBiodiversity website. 

The main organiser of the Nature Festival and the Nature Observation Marathon is the University of Tartu Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden, and the co-organiser is the Birdwatcher. The Nature Observation Marathon is part of the 9th annual Nature Festival programme. The University of Tartu Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden and its partners organise the festival. The Nature Festival is part of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 programme. The Environmental Investment Centre and Tartu 2024 support the Nature Festival. 

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