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Reconnecting with nature

A blog post by Juliette Camburn

Juliette Camburn
Community Projects Officer

Posted 15/04/2020

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We’re all having to adapt our way of living at the moment and, for me, working from home has brought some small but wonderful positives, reconnecting me to nature and my local area.

As I sit at my ‘desk’ (the kitchen table), and look out at our small garden, each day I’ve loved seeing all the life and activity going on, just outside my window.  Coronavirus may be curtailing our movements, but nature is still carrying on regardless and I’m realising that if you stop to look and listen, it’s all around us.

 

People talk about ‘biodiversity’ but what exactly does that mean? For me, it’s feeling the sun on my face and hearing the bird song around me as I do my morning stretches in the garden; it’s the new life breathed into my fruit trees as the green buds start to appear; it’s the sunny yellow daffodils waving their heads in the breeze; it’s the birds fluttering around our bird feeder and homemade bird bath, jostling for space to get some nourishing seed and a drink (and the fat pigeons waddling down our path and the blackbirds trying to impress each other in front of the sparrows); it’s the cheeky squirrels scampering along the wall at the back of our garden; it’s the spiders that have created the spiderwebs I’m finding in the nooks and crannies of my house; it’s the bees buzzing lazily in the sunshine, visiting our heather plants; it’s the two goldfinches which visited our garden on the 30 March – such beautiful birds and made my day! It’s the wildflower seeds starting to sprout – every day I check them and delight in their progress; it’s the slugs, snails, worms and slaters I found when emptying pots to refill and replant. It’s the wild garlic I discovered on one of my walks from home and the flowering currant bush I took a cutting from to try and grow in my own garden; it’s the beautiful, stately trees in our local park and the curlews I saw on another daily walk. And, of course, it’s us – we are all part of the world’s ‘biodiversity’ and we rely on each other to keep us all healthy and happy (my garden and the green spaces around me in Stirling are definitely making me feel happy right now).

Through my role at Keep Scotland Beautiful, I’m privileged to support and celebrate the work of community groups, local authorities and businesses across Scotland, through our Beautiful Scotland and It’s Your Neighbourhood initiatives. All those we work with are doing their bit to help biodiversity in their local area and helping their communities reconnect with nature.  While this may have slowed down or changed focus during this time of lockdown, the examples are endless, whether that be through setting up a nature trail for local people to enjoy; creating bug hotels with local children or leaving piles of dead wood and involving people in monitoring the insects using them; putting up swift boxes in urban areas and taking part in national monitoring schemes; adding signage to explain why leaving long grass is beneficial to lots of wildlife; creating meadows and giving talks; engaging with their local countryside ranger or wildlife expert to increase their knowledge.  We have so many great examples, but here are some extra inspiring ones which I want to share with you now:

  • Lauder in Bloom’s ‘Pollinator Patches @ the Park: the group won our ‘Garden for Life Biodiversity Award’ at last year’s Beautiful Scotland award ceremony. With the help of local people, the group has turned three unloved areas in the village into vibrant ‘pollinator patches’ with food available all year for the insect visitors. The group also put up signs, so people know what species to look out for.  Read the full story here.
  • Two years ago, we started a four-year partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), to reward our It’s Your Neighbourhood groups for their pollinator friendly activities. The annual SNH Pollinator Friendly Award has been hotly contested, with nominations coming from all over Scotland.  In the first year we received a submission from Alcohol and Drugs Action Recovery Garden Group in Aberdeen. The group has been involved in creating areas that are very pollinator friendly within the city centre, for example, a planter in Carmelite St has been planted up with staggered flowering shrubs, such as buddleia, lavender and herbs as well as a variety of bulbs for springtime. 

As part of a joint initiative with Aberdeen Inspired, the Business Improvement District, the group provides flowering pots, containing bulbs, herbs and perennial shrubs, for commercial premises in the Castlegate, which are replaced twice a year to make sure there is nectar available for as much of the season as possible. The group’s small contribution in the city centre is helping to sustain the urban bees which were introduced by Aberdeen Inspired and are tended by two Alcohol and Drugs Action volunteers who received their beekeepers training through an Aberdeen Inspired joint working project. Read some of our inspiring entries on the SNH Pollinators blog here.

  • North Berwick in Bloom volunteers, with support from the Countryside Ranger, have been working hard over the past few years to create and maintain a 1.7ha wildflower meadow. Read the full story here.

 

With all this amazing work going on across Scotland, we decided to develop our own internal Position Statement on Biodiversity this year.  We hope that, by inspiring and guiding others, everyone will feel empowered to do their bit to look after and enhance the biodiversity all around us.

Coronavirus is definitely slowing all of our movements down, but there is hope that by noticing the nature around us, more people across Scotland will want to look after and care for our wonderful environment… on that note I’m off to enjoy a cup of coffee in my garden, surrounded by beautiful bird song.

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