A new project has been launched to encourage us all into our gardens and out into the countryside.
The joint initiative between the Pollinator Project and Guernsey Mind aims to show people how they can enjoy their gardens with wildlife in mind while enjoying the mental health benefits that time spent in green spaces and connecting with nature can bring.
Guernsey Post will be delivering a leaflet to every household this week, including a ‘Create A Guernsey Butterfly’
sheet along with the leaflet that is a creative competition open to all islanders.
One of the Pollinator Project aims is to let people know about the species we have in Guernsey and included in the pack is a snapshot Butterfly ID Sheet and ideas for how we can protect these species of use over the summer months.
Pollinator Project coordinator Vanessa Crispini-Adams says: ‘Usually at this time of year we would be busy in schools and community groups giving presentations on the insects that can be found in Guernsey and helping to create Pollinator Patches that provide food for emerging pollinating insects that are so vital to healthy ecosystems. This year our school focus was to be on the 19 species of butterfly that breed here in Guernsey and was a follow on from our hugely successful Bumblebee schools campaign last year. Just as we were about to launch the campaign the C19 crisis hit and the schools closed
However, as this lockdown keeps demonstrating, we are lucky to live in such a close-knit community and within weeks suggestions of how the project could be resurrected and made bigger and better emerged, together with people offering to support us. With that support and the blessing from the Public Health team we have been able to open up our 2020 Guernsey Butterfly campaign to the whole community as a lockdown initiative and highlight the broader benefits of wildlife gardening for everybody’s personal wellbeing.
Friday 22 May is International Day of Biodiversity, which the Pollinator Project marks each year with an event. This year it coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week and it made perfect sense to team up with Guernsey Mind on this initiative as mental health has been an important consideration during lockdown.’
Louisa Mace from Guernsey Mind said ‘This week’s National Mental Health Awareness theme is kindness. We wanted to focus on kindness to others but also kindness to ourselves. Self care does not always come easily but the benefits of allowing time to connect with nature are well known, as is doing something positive and creative. This Lockdown initiative suggests nature based activities for inside and out, for individuals as well as families and hopefully provides something that everyone can engage with.’
Barry Wells, Pollinator Project Coordinator said, ‘Almost straight away after Lockdown in March we noticed an increase in queries from the public asking for help with identifying various insects and flowers as people had the opportunity, sometimes for the first time in their busy lives, to spend time in their gardens or on their exercise sessions, to notice and watch the small creatures that live in our gardens and neighbourhoods. For many it has been the surprising silver lining of lockdown.'
One of the Pollinator Project aims is to let people know about the species we have in Guernsey and we hope many will find our snapshot Butterfly ID Sheet and ideas for how we can protect these species of use over the summer months. As nature ambassadors we know the benefits that appreciating the natural world around us can bring to our lives, as nature is ‘our thing’.
However the benefits from time spent in, or even looking at, green spaces is now widely recognised by the medical profession to have a positive benefit for everyone, not just us nature-lovers. It is also increasingly recognised that children need the balance of time spent on screens with being outside with space to move freely and explore the natural world. Most children have an infectious curiosity about plants and animals and especially our creepy crawlies. And most people cannot fail to be struck by the beauty of butterflies.
'There is so much that each of us can do to support wildlife in our gardens and our aim to to get islanders to manage just 10% of their gardens for wildlife. That could be planting a wildlife hedge, an apple tree or a pollinator patch, it could be creating a pond or a putting up a bird box or making an insect shelter. However importantly it also sometimes means doing less. Leave the pesticides in their bottles as they do kill beneficial insects and let a section of your lawn grow long or mow less often. People are often amazed at the plants that are already in their lawns and many are beautiful jewel like plants that are perfect for pollinating insects.’