Over 500 Churches took part in the successful pilot project, called ‘Churches Count on Nature’ earlier this month (June 5-13), to explore the contribution churches could make to monitoring wildlife species and help restore their numbers in the UK. The number of churches participating greatly exceeded A Rocha UK’s original target, and churches recorded a number of rare and endangered species among many others in church yards, spaces and burial grounds across England and Wales.
Andy Lester, A Rocha UK Head of Conservation explains: “Nature is in rapid decline across the UK, with many species and habitats in trouble. Churches Count on Nature has helped to paint a picture of what species still occur around churches and how best to encourage nature’s recovery. It is not too late, and we have not lost hope. As a faith community, we believe it is possible to create new space for nature that will make it more resilient to the impacts of climate change and habitat loss.”
The initiative was jointly run by A Rocha UK and Caring for God’s Acre, in partnership with the Church of England and Church in Wales. Participating communities were encouraged to record how many animals, birds, insects or fungi were present in their outdoor spaces. Harriet Carty from Caring for God’s Acre said, “We have had 1000s of species records submitted so far and are busy collating the information. We are really grateful for everyone who has taken part and will soon publish the results so everyone can see how important these sites are. They are true ‘havens on earth’ – for both people and wildlife‘” Their data was collated on the National Biodiversity Network and we look forward to publishing the results shortly.
A Rocha UK will be assessing the full results of this pilot project over the summer and deciding on whether to roll it out in future years.