Nature provides us with the fresh air we breathe, the clean water we drink and the fertile soils that sustain us. It’s the green engine that drives our economy, it’s central to our natural and cultural heritage and provides the natural riches that keep us healthy and happy. But, while nature is taking care of us, who is taking care of nature? The breathtaking landscapes and habitats of Wales host precious populations of wildlife; however, with one in 14 species in Wales now facing extinction, nature needs our help.
RSPB Cymru is passionate about wildlife and is dedicated to saving it. Since the RSPB began its mission in 1889 the threats nature faces have grown. RSPB Cymru has risen to meet these challenges by protecting nature rich places, restoring fragile populations of wildlife to the countryside and forging new partnerships, encouraging others to give nature the home it needs. It’s bringing thousands of young people and their families closer to our urban wildlife in Cardiff, popping up in parks, community hubs and green spaces across the city and igniting a new found curiosity for nature.
Buglife Cymru is devoted to the conservation of all invertebrates, and is actively working to save Wales’ rarest small animals; from bees to beetles, worms to woodlice, spiders to snails. Cardiff is a flagship city for Buglife Cymru’s pollinator work and over the past 18 months the charity has worked with local community groups, schools, the City of Cardiff Council and others to enhance over 100 areas across the city, by providing food and shelter for our pollinating insects via its Cardiff Urban Buzz project.
Research has shown that, sadly, only one child in every eight in Wales has a healthy connection with nature. There is strong evidence that we are healthier, happier and more efficient when we spend time with nature and it’s an essential element of promoting good physical and mental wellbeing. RSPB Cymru and Buglife Cymru are therefore working across Cardiff to bring more children closer to nature through the Giving Nature a Home in Cardiff project. In partnership with the City of Cardiff Council and funded by the Big Lottery Fund, the project is inspiring and enabling young people, families and local communities to take action to not only support wildlife in Cardiff, but to treasure it.
Since the project began in 2014 it has provided free outreach sessions to over two thirds of Cardiff primary schools, engaging over 17,500 children with hands on experiences with nature. It’s helped communities in 90% of Cardiff wards to spend more time with wildlife through free family events, and worked with local volunteers who’ve donated over 4,000 hours of their time to help engage communities with nature. However, there is still plenty of work left to do. By 2022, the project aims to engage a further 50,000 children, families and local communities with nature; deliver free nature outreach sessions in all Cardiff primary schools and early years settings; inspire communities to create wildlife friendly habitats on their patch and encourage even more people to volunteer for nature in Cardiff.
Nature has the power to stir our emotions, providing lasting experiences and memories that can lift our hearts. It keeps us alive, is crucial to our health and wellbeing and makes our lives worth living. Once it’s gone it’s impossible to replace. If we’re to hand over a wildlife rich world to our children we need to work together to protect it now.
RSPB Cymru’s Director, Katie-jo Luxon, said: “As a young girl growing up I was lucky to be able to explore and be inspired by natural world. That early contact with wildlife is one of the greatest gifts and it saddens me to think that there is less wildlife in Wales today to inspire the next generation. As a mother bringing up my children in the city of Cardiff, I’m really excited by the opportunity to make our city the best home for wildlife it can be and to share that passion for nature with more children, families and communities.
“From the wildflower meadows of Forest Farm to the tranquil lakes of Roath Park, Cardiff has an abundance of wildlife on offer, but sometimes it can be all too easy to live in a city without appreciating the fantastic natural world around us. We’re therefore thrilled that RSPB Cymru and Buglife Cymru have been chosen as the Lord Mayor’s charities of the year, allowing us to encourage even more people to enjoy the moments of pure joy and wonder that nature evokes.”
Buglife Cymru’s Manager, Clare Dinham, said: “Cardiff is a great city for anyone who loves nature and boasts some stunning spaces for wildlife. Our capital is home to a wide range of pollinators including one of our rarest – the shrill carder bee.
“We’re delighted to have been chosen as the Lord Mayor’s Charity and we’re excited to continue to create important habitats for our pollinators across Cardiff. Linking our gardens, allotments, parks and school grounds will allow pollinators and other insects to move across the city and beyond. Healthy populations of invertebrates help to pollinate our crops, support other wildlife such as birds and small mammals and provide enjoyment and wonder.
“We’re also looking forward to recruiting more volunteers to support our work in Cardiff and help us create even more habitats for invertebrates and brilliant opportunities for local people.”