Andrew Gibson, conservation officer at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, challenges us to think about how we can ‘put nature back into everything we do’.
HULL IS THIS editor Jerome Whittingham joined Andrew on a very wet day to look at some examples of what he means.
Andrew pointed out the mental health benefits of bird-watching and feeding the ducks, showed how architectural design can offer surprising opportunities, and explained how man-made environments can be managed with nature in mind.
Putting nature back into everything we do is beneficial to all of us, not just nature, he argues.
PODCAST: Put nature back into everything (Duration: 24 minutes).
1m:20s – Andy has taken me into the industrial heart of the city, the banks of the River Hull at Wincolmlee. A now heavily silted river indicates how industry, and the river itself, has changed. We discuss people’s views about flooding, and whether the river should be dredged.
4m:10s – Further down the river, Andy explains how the mud flats provide feeding grounds for species of wading birds, such as the Redshank. There’s a generous variety of bird species in the city centre, even though it’s a built-up and industrial environment. The river banks present an opportunity for us to get closer to nature, and to appreciate what’s right on our doorstep.
5m:45s – We’re still on the banks of the River Hull, now opposite the city farm – Rooted in Hull, by the Post Office sorting office. There’s a dock entrance here. Andy wonders whether there’s an opportunity here for an innovative saline horticultural project, growing samphire for local restaurants.
8m:45s – Andy explains how the reed bed at Stage At The Dock came about. Maybe one day, he enthuses, visitors to The Sesh or Freedom Festival may also hear Reed Warblers here, as well as hip-hop.
10m:50s – East Park, the largest green space in the east of the city also presents a large body of water – the boating lake. Like the river, it also attracts bird species, including the Goosander. Andy encourages visitors to take a look at the visiting over-wintering birds, and also the trees and textures of foliage. It’s all about appreciating nature, which may lead to better care of the natural environment. Get involved with the nature in the city.
15m:25s – We’re on the roof of the Bonus Arena in the city centre. Did you know there’s a ‘green roof space’ outside the main administrative office suite? I didn’t!! We climbed out on to it. It’s well populated with different species of flora, and even hosted a nest of mallard ducks last year. The space isn’t huge, so maybe it’s more about improving the working conditions of the office staff, rather than providing an ecological impact. But, imagine if more city-centre buildings had living rooftops – should all new architecture, especially buildings in very built-up areas, be built this way? That could improve air quality, and the quality of water going down into the drains.
18m:15s – Drainage ditches, near Willerby. There’s quite a contrast in management of a stretch of these ditches. One part is banked by vegetation, the other very open with steep sides. The heavily managed, more ‘open’ stretch of ditch provides little ecological benefit for wildlife, and may even allow litter and debris to fall in to it, or be thrown in to it. Looking at the management of these sites from a ‘nature’ perspective could provide additional benefits, over and above the flow of water.
20m:00s – Bridgehead Industrial Estate. Andy told me about how he managed to relocate a species of orchid, during the development and building of the site. Putting nature into the planning process from the outset, Andy suggests, could prevent some species from being lost to the city. There’s an opportunity here to educate workers on site about the species to be found outside their offices and work-spaces. Ecologically-aware management of grassy spaces around sites like this elsewhere in the city could lead to simpler management plans for such places, and be more beneficial to nature.
“Putting nature into everything we do is about managing things differently… It’s about mindset change, having people either see indifference at what they look at, and saying ‘I’m not really bothered’, or having people see that’s really good and thinking ‘I can add to that change as well’,” Andrew Gibson, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.
An automated transcript of this podcast is available to download here: Put-Nature-Back
[Jerome Whittingham – editor]