Celebrating local biodiversity action
By Sarah Smith and Sarah Ferriss
International Biodiversity Day provides a great opportunity for us to celebrate biodiversity and reflect on how we can all be part of the solution to stop the current catastrophic decline in biodiversity.
In our last blog, we focused on how the choices we make as individuals can help improve the outcomes for biodiversity. Following on from that we wanted to shine a spotlight on the benefits biodiversity brings to our daily lives, and how local action can make a difference. There are amazing individuals, groups and organisations all over the globe doing tremendous work to help conserve biodiversity. We hope that some of these examples of local action can help inspire others to believe that we can all take action to be part of the solution.
We live in Cambridgeshire, which is a predominantly rural county, but also includes the lovely cities of Cambridge, Ely and Peterborough. Much of the county's biodiversity has already been lost, so there is a real need for action near us.
Luckily action is what we are getting. A partnership of organisations and local authorities (including the South Cambridgeshire District Council where we live) have signed up to the Doubling Nature in Cambridgeshire Pledge and there are a whole series of projects underway. From the Nature Recovery Network proposed by the Wildlife Trusts, to the Future Parks collaboration across Cambridgeshire, to various habitat restoration projects such as the Wicken Fen Vision.
This action goes right down to the village level too. In Histon and Impington, concern was raised over the sale of local land "Abbey Fields" with two biodiversity-rich plots (Long Meadow and Croft Close set aside). This prompted residents to come together and organise to stop this land being lost. A generous local donor has bought the land, taking it off the market and residents are now fundraising for this to be sold on to a charity established under the Parish Council. This will permanently secure the land as an important place for biodiversity (including the oldest Oak in East Anglia) and for the community. Read more about this inspiring project here.
(Turtle Dove and Fungi in Abbey Fields, Histon & Impington, just some of the important biodiversity here. Photo credits: Penny Reeves and Moria Neal).
Nearby the Orchard Park Wildlife Project helps create space for wildlife around the development, such as wildflower patches, orchards, and bat boxes and holds regular events to engage the whole community and to encourage people to notice and enjoy the wildlife on their doorstep. It is currently working with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Amphibian and Reptile Group training volunteers to survey a local lizard population that was moved when its habitat was being built on, to see how it has fared.
A local Hedgehog gardens project helps this rapidly declining species by linking together Hedgehog friendly gardens with a simple hole in the fence.
(Histon and Impington Hedgehogs. Photos: Valerie Williams and Lynn Dean)
In Milton Country Park the Wild Minds Project harnesses the healing power of nature in a teenage mental health referral programme with a wide variety of outdoor activities to build confidence, friendship and the enjoyment of the outdoors. In another local village, the Girton Woods were one of the Woodland Trust's 'Woods on Your Doorstep' created to commemorate the Millennium. These woods are a popular den building spot for local children, and have grown to be an invaluable place of respite and recreation for the local community, never more so than during the recent COVID 19 lockdowns. Nearby the Girton Nature Reserve is home to an array of wildflowers, as well as newts and other wildlife in the pond.
(Girton Nature Reserve and Green Blue You enjoying Girton Woods, Photo credit: Kevin Smith)
In places like Ely, we have seen the community group together as Ely Wildspace to stop the develop at Roswell Pits, a site that was subsequently designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
These are just a few examples across a whole range of initiatives, from the very grassroots to the more strategic and political that are going on across the county and the country.
By being part of the solution, we are benefitting, not only by having a healthier and more resilient place to live, but also because nature can improve our own health. One study found people with high nature connectedness were 1.7 times more likely to report that their lives were worthwhile than those with low nature connectedness. People who visited nature at least once a week were 1.9 times more likely to also report good general health.
And by being connected to nature, we are more likely to take action to help our environment, to conserve biodiversity. Nature England found that individuals with high nature connectedness were twice as likely to adopt pro-environmental behaviours than those with low nature connectedness. A report published this week by WWF highlighted an "eco-awakening" with more people than ever thinking about and taking action for nature and the planet.
There are so many ways you can get involved, from simply spending some time in your day appreciating and enjoying nature, to getting involved in local projects like the above no matter how small your role, and signing up to some of the fantastic national initiatives run by conservation organisations around the country. Here at Green Blue You we are really enjoying PlantLife's No Mow May (and we have so many more birds in our gardens because of it) and in June will be signing up to the Wildlife Trust 30 days wild challenge.
(Green Blue You's No Mow May lawns)
We would love to hear what you are doing to get involved with biodiversity in your local area. Thanks for joining us in being a small part of the solution.
#For Nature #Bepartofthesolution