Environmental charity, Earthwatch Europe, has launched a new digital platform to support community wildlife projects called Naturehood. Designed to develop a network of thousands of local people who each do tiny actions for nature in their neighbourhoods, the aim is to create a tapestry of habitats that, combined on a national basis, will help protect and increase biodiversity in the UK.
The North West has an urgent need for its people to take action and utilise community connections to save the region’s biodiversity. Over 7 million people live in the North West and only 8.5% of the land is now wooded. With the loss of hedgerows and more intensive farming practices, urban gardens and green areas are therefore vital places for wildlife.
With half a million people living in Liverpool, over 300,000 on the Wirral, 180,000 in St Helens and almost 548,000 in Manchester for example, the potential for people power to support nature is immense.
In March, days before lockdown, Earthwatch created the UK’s first tiny forest, an area the size of a tennis court planted with 600 different native trees, to create a fast-growing dense forest. The Naturehood campaign follows the same approach, centring on the need to connect communities to support biodiversity. It aims to create an army of people across the country each taking a tiny step for nature, who together will make a difference.
Research conducted by Earthwatch during lockdown proved how valuable being near nature is for mental wellbeing, with 67% of all adults in the North West saying that looking at nature left them with a sense of calm. The community approach of the Naturehood programme takes this further and invites people to sign up and become actively involved with nature, taking small positive steps for biodiversity.
Once signed up to Naturehood, people will be offered a choice of different activities in their local area which will vary in scale and approach, for example making a leaf or log pile, creating a gap in fencing to act as a wildlife passageway or surveying green spaces for wildlife. The activities have been selected based on scientific evidence of their impact on increasing or protecting biodiversity. An accompanying online platform will allow people to select actions, network and share ideas and activities.
The important aspect is that hundreds of people can make a small action for nature in their own neighbourhoods, which will be coordinated to make a collective difference. Stanford scientist BH Fogg, author of ‘Tiny Habits’ has described how making a behaviour ‘radically tiny’ can be the cornerstone to achieving successful change. Earthwatch’s Naturehood incorporates this approach where no step is too small to take, to encourage more people to sign up and begin ‘the small changes that change everything’.
Nick Baker and Michaela Strachan, who presented the BBC’s Really Wild Show, are both supporting the Naturehood project, alongside ‘Urban birder’ David Lindo. They are all keen to show how this new online platform makes it easy for anyone to take a step toward helping nature in their area:
“It can feel like the scale of change required to help nature and improve the environment is so big and that it’s pointless trying to do anything. We are saying to people everywhere, no matter what you do or who you are, you CAN help. Nature is for you and needs you more than ever,” David said.
“In the quietness of lockdown we heard nature like never before. Naturehood offers everyone the chance to keep that connection going, to respond to nature and be part of something bigger.”
Ben Williams, Earthwatch Project Manager for Naturehood, explained why this particular platform is all about connecting neighbourhoods and people:
“Loss of habitat and biodiversity is one of the most urgent environmental issues of our time. Since 1970, 41% of UK species have declined, but if we each created one new tiny habitat or protected one small area in our neighbourhoods, and we connect these actions up, it will make a difference. We can help hold back that loss, or even bring back more species to your area. By signing up to Naturehood we can work together to make a real difference to biodiversity in the UK.”