Nature Open Days…coming to a town near you

Heritage Open Days is a great idea. It’s a chance to open up a window on the cultural heritage world that people don’t normally get to see. For the last twenty years every September it showcases the best in those places that you always wondered what was behind those doors or gates.

In similar vein there is also the national gardens scheme open garden weekend every June where passionate gardeners open up their pride and joy to local people.

These open days are great ideas – giving people access to places behind bricks and mortar or garden gates.

A footpath along the River Avon in Bath; a haven for nature framed by the trees.

A footpath along the River Avon in Bath; a haven for nature framed by the trees.

So, how about creating a green space and nature rich alternative for our villages, towns and cities?

Nature open days could be a great way for people to find out more about the green spaces on their doorsteps and find new green spaces that they never knew existed. Eighty per cent of us live in urban areas and this is the perfect chance to open a window on the wildlife on buildings, pavements, garden walls and patches of ground.

Many of us spend large chunks of time commuting – I know that I do. And with those days out at weekends or catching up with jobs around the house there is little time to explore your local neighbourhood.

Nature open days would be a great chance to bring together passionate experts and people that love the natural world with communities to go on a journey of discovery. Local natural history societies or conservation groups could get involved in helping people connect with local patches that are good for nature.

You could either have a walk around a local green space at a specific time. Maybe as a dawn chorus or following a route along a river or into some woodland.

Or it could be a longer citizen science style event when people can help record all of the different species. This could be short slots for families or over longer periods of time.

All of this would happen over one weekend across the urban areas of the UK.

Either way its about helping to the story of these places and look at how we need to link up our urban green spaces.

And like the other open days it would be free to get involved or perhaps a chance to raise money via donations for local wildlife projects.

Roadside verges, green spaces, back lanes and patches of woodland are all waiting to be discovered in urban areas. And the great thing is that you don’t need to be an expert to listen to birdsong, wonder at moss on trees and enjoy beautiful wild flowers.

Lanes behind houses can be great wildlife corridors for mammals, insects and in the summer come alive with wild flowers

Lanes behind houses can be great wildlife corridors for mammals, insects and in the summer come alive with wild flowers

The act of wandering around using your senses is a great way of connecting the health and nature agendas. Local GPs or healthcare centres could encourage people to join the walks. And it would be a great way for families to spend time having a wild time with kids collecting stuff or taking pictures of what they see.

The open days could be held in late May or early June, over a weekend, as spring becomes summer; perhaps linking in to BBC Springwatch as its beamed into the homes of millions. It would allow people to walk to nature where they live rather than having to go deep into the countryside.

Hopefully these days could become a catalyst for people to come together to look after these every day nature spaces metres away from where they live. There is something rather appealing about walking to see nature and seeing nature en route, without having to travel to nature reserves; you never know what you might find.

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