We at Her Campus Bristol are focused on eating sustainability and finding ways to make a positive impact on the environment as students living in a bustling city.
As part of this, I have been in touch with Dr Adrian Cooper, part of Felixstowe’s Community Nature Reserve, an independent voluntary organisation which encourages local gardeners and allotment owners to allocate at least 3 square yards of their land for wildlife-friendly plants, ponds and insect lodges.
As a consequence, Felixstowe is developing a “Community nature reserve” composed of many pieces of private land, but between which insects, birds and other wildlife can fly and develop sustainable biodiversity. Three times each week, local people are advised on Facebook about appropriate wildlife-friendly plants. At the moment, the organisation is in the middle of a campaign which promotes bee-friendly plants.
Find out more on my blog where I discuss simple and easy ways on how to help bees despite living in the city.
Cooper explains how “The original idea behind Felixstowe’s Community Nature Reserve was born out of [his] frustration with politicians during the 2015 General Election debate. None of them even mentioned the catastrophic decline in bee and other wildlife populations. Clearly, action from local grassroots was needed.”
(Image source: www.smallestsmallholding.com)
“After the election result was announced, I started talking and listening with people from local government, as well as everyday people from the Felixstowe community. In fact, I spent the months until October 2015, listening and learning about what might be possible, and gathering a small team of volunteers. Most people understood that wildlife populations in Felixstowe were falling, and they wanted to help, but they simply did not know how.”
Cooper set up a Facebook page where he regularly advised people about wildlife-friendly plants. Some of the plants on the list included barberry, firethorn, foxgloves, sunflowers, lavender, honeysuckle, buddleia, and purple loosestrife.
Since then, there has been a surge of support from local people. In fact, Cooper has received 152 messages from locals, telling the organisation what they have bought and planted, all at the recommendation of Cooper’s Facebook posts.
In the Leicestershire villages of Cosby and Burbage, local people decided to copy Felixstowe’s model to develop their own community nature reserves – all thanks to the Internet. So now, there is the Cosby Community Nature Reserve and the Burbage Community Nature Reserve – a remarkable result from what started out as one man’s passion for helping nature.
Cooper has also had several enquiries from people all over the UK, asking about the details of how the reserve was set up and how the initiative has developed. The Reserve is now hopinh to inspire students to take responsibility for their local conservation.
While our garden space may be limited, “Even window box owners are encouraged to take part!”
(Image source: www.phillymag.com)
So, are you a student who wants to try and help local wildlife, or even set up your own environmental organisation? Cooper offers some advice on how to go about this: “The most important lesson which we can offer other groups who may wish to start their own community nature reserve is to listen to as many local people as possible. Be patient. Don’t rush into the Facebook phase until your local community feels comfortable with what you plan to do.”
“The next lesson is to keep listening, so fresh new ideas from the community can be fed into the Facebook and other social media as often as possible. We like to use Streetlife.com because it’s a great way to get discussions going among local people who otherwise might not get involved in community engagement.”
To keep up to date with Felixstowe Community Nature Reserve, like their Facebook page.