Gathering around a glacial pothole scoured out by swirling waters and stones about 15,000 years ago to record species in the area.  Photo: Adam Stoltman
Explorers of Northern Manhattan 
We explore the marshes and forests of Northern Manhattan. Our goal is to better understand the plants and animals living in our own backyard. We go on several nature walks a year in Inwood Hill Park and four coves in the area.  These are Muscota Marsh, Inwood Hill Cove, North Cove, and Sherman Creek. On the hikes we identify, catalogue, and keep an eye on the wildlife.  By identifying the different plants and animals – what we call “biodiversity” – and revisiting these plants and animals over time, we can measure the health of our natural places.  As more of us record our observations for others to see, ​​​​​​​we can tell if it is human activity that is helping or hurting things.  Once we know that, we can inform other community members, City Parks, and Representatives to help us make positive changes.   
Seeing Before Looking
Before we look at the world as a scientist, we need to go deeper. Slow down, turn-off your cell phone, slow time down, and listen.  Sense the breathtaking diversity of species around us.  Take a moment to reflect on the native Americans who also gazed up at this canopy of red oak and tulip trees centuries ago.  Where did the Tulip Trees come from?  Were they cherished and transplanted from elsewhere by people long ago for harvest to make dugout canoes for ferrying and fishing in the once abundant waters?  In a competition for sunlight, do Tulip Trees encourage other trees to reach up higher towards the sun resulting in this beautiful tall canopy and home to so much life?  In the symbiotic architecture of these interdependent communities including human, can we sense a higher wisdom?  Before we delve into the science we try to ground ourselves in the basic truth of life: the whole creates the parts and the parts create the whole.  We may never be able to see the beginning or whole for what it is, but we can study the parts, and maybe glean a bit of this higher wisdom that keeps life flourishing for generations to come. 

What Are We Looking For?
When we are in the field we ask Explorers to look for....and record their... 

Why is Biodiversity Important?  
Biodiversity increases resilience to climate change by mitigating floods and rising temperatures.  It’s vital to the health and well-being of residents, the productivity of waterways and soil, and quality-of-life of a global city.  This is important because the healthier our natural places are, the healthier we are.  
Everything is connected.
Expanding Our Perspective 
Our Guest Speakers and Partners Program
We welcome diverse views and periodically host guest speakers on our nature walks.  Conservancy North also works in concert with the biodiversity study of Natural Areas Conservancy -- the partner of the New York City Parks.  We also partner with Friends of Inwood Hill Park, New York Restoration Project, Manhattan Wetlands and Wildlife Association, and others to help expand the local conservation community and our own perspectives of the natural world.  

Methods and Tools
Using established study methods developed specifically for NYC natural areas by the Museum of Natural History, volunteers of all ages, interest, and education levels combine efforts to better understand the unique ecosystems of Northern Manhattan and to become effective citizen scientists and advocates for our natural spaces.  We also make it easy to catalogue and share our Observations with the classroom and worldwide with the scientific community by using the iNaturalist App.  Visit the Four Coves Biodiversity Project on iNaturalist.  
So contact us, come along, learn hands-on about environmental science and help protect the one world we live in.   ​​​​​​​
iNaturalist helps you identify the plants and animals around you and connect with a community of over 750,000 scientists and naturalists who can help you learn more about nature.   iNaturalist provides a place to record and organize nature findings, meet other nature enthusiasts, and learn about the natural world.​​​​​​​

Step 2.   Check out these video tutorials on how to use iNaturalist.

Adding an Observation on a Mobile Device

Adding on Observation via the Web

How to Take Identifiable Photos

Step 3.   Now that you got the gist of it, the next time you are on a walk in Northern Manhattan, add your nature observation to the Four Coves Biodiversity Project.

If you found this interesting, you may also like:

iNaturalist App
Use iNaturalist on a smart phone or tablet to record and share nature findings in northern Manhattan.
The iNaturalist App helps us identify the plants and animals around us and connect with a community of over 750,000 scientists and naturalists who can help us understand more about nature. iNaturalist provides a place to record and organize nature findings, meet other nature enthusiasts, and learn about the natural world. Conservancy North encourages nature walk participants to download the iNaturalist app and contribute to the study of biodiversity in Inwood Hill Park and other blue-green areas of northern Manhattan.
Waterfront Community Stewardship Areas
Can we reinvent the waterfront that made NYC great, as a place of community-based entrepreneurialism in step with todays environmental challenges?
Despite the efforts of various well-intentioned public agencies and private organizations, New York City’s 520 miles of waterfront are a largely untapped resource for both the city and its communities. This may seem counterintuitive, given the amount of investment we have seen into waterfront revitalization in the last 20 years. But in a city surrounded by water, why do we need to leave town to enjoy a living waterfront? Where is the flourishing neighborhood waterfront culture?
Policy Recommendation
North Cove, Home of the Birdman
Founder of Manhattan Wetlands and Wildlife and NYS-licensed animal rehabilitator James Cataldi, the ‘Birdman of Inwood’, worked singlehandedly to clean North Cove for years before community members and church, school, and green groups joined him in his efforts.
Council Rock, Inwood Hill Park
Guest speaker Evan Pritchard leads a nature walk this Spring. Due to COVID we have to reschedule the walk for later this year.
The spirit of the Algonquin Landkeepers is still strong on Manhattan Island; we can find inspiration in them as to how to make positive environmental changes and get ourselves off the dead-end road we’re speeding down and onto the Red Road again, which, as the Hopi say, leads to a world where children will be safe to grow up. Due to the COVID virus we have to reschedule the walk for later this year. Please say tuned.
Life Signs
A visual walking tour of the biodiversity of northern Manhattan
Life Signs traces a walking tour of the extraordinary natural areas of northern Manhattan, featuring the work of local stewards and their insights on policy and activism.  
Awareness Campaign, incl., wayfaring guide, photo exhibit
Inwood Hill in the Winter
By Jim Cole
The woods are frozen, snow turned to ice covering the forest floor. It is dusk. I am moving – tentatively – first one step, and then another, under the Clove’s forest canopy. This unique and important island of trees is a secret habitat defined by a clove-shaped ridge line that protects it from the city that surrounds it. Suddenly, I crash through the crust with a thud. The sound echoes off the stones and trees.
Photo: Cristóbal Vivar
Back to Top