A group of volunteers who plant and maintain attractive planting in Dundee city centre to encourage insects and improve the wellbeing of people visiting the city have been revealed by environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful as the 2020 winners of the NatureScot It’s Your Neighbourhood Pollinator Friendly Award.
Announced at the annual Beautiful Scotland and It’s Your Neighbourhood seminar, online for the first time in 2020, the Bonnie Dundee It’s Your Neighbourhood group will receive a certificate and £250 to invest in pollinator friendly activities.
All entrants to Keep Scotland Beautiful’s annual community environmental improvement programme It’s Your Neighbourhood were invited to make a bid for the award, which was judged by NatureScot and Keep Scotland Beautiful in early October.
As part of its work leading the Pollinator Strategy, this is the third year that NatureScot has supported the award to celebrate successful pollinator-friendly approaches, such as providing habitat and food, taken by a community group.
Bonnie Dundee volunteers work closely with Dundee City Council to plant with pollinators in mind, and to educate and increase people’s awareness and understanding via notices and through online communications. The volunteers are responsible for fourteen planters on Union Street and an area of Slessor Gardens.
Catherine Lawson from Bonnie Dundee said, “We’re delighted to receive this award. Covid 19 halted planned developments, but the group teamed up with ‘Seeds of Hope Scotland’ and handed out 95 packets of Scottish wildflower seeds during lockdown to individuals and groups throughout Dundee to be planted in gardens, window boxes and other suitable spaces.
Communication was done electronically, and seeds posted out to maintain social distancing. We highlighted the importance of pollinators and the fact that everyone can be pollinator friendly, even if they only have a window box. The response was really positive, and participants sent photos of their seed patches and reported how much they had enjoyed watching their seeds grow and bloom, and watching the visiting insects, particularly the bees and butterflies.
“We plan to use the prize money to buy more Scottish seeds, from ‘Seeds of Hope’ and additionally perennial seeds from Scotia Seeds to hand out, with instructions to different people and groups so we spread knowledge even further.”
Barry Fisher, CEO of Keep Scotland Beautiful said, “We know that lockdown resulted in many people reconnecting with nature and biodiversity in their local neighbourhoods. This can only be good news for our environment, locally and globally, as people’s renewed appreciation and reconnection will ultimately help us tackle climate change and protect our planet.
“I’d like to thank Bonnie Dundee for the efforts its volunteers have made to keep Dundee beautiful this year, for its people and nature, and look forward to seeing how the work blooms with the prize money.”
Jim Jeffrey, Pollinator Strategy Manager with NatureScot, who announced the award at the seminar said: “In what has been a very challenging year, it was inspiring to see how Bonnie Dundee nevertheless found a creative way to connect people with nature during the lockdown.
“We know how important that connection is for both physical and mental wellbeing and encouragingly recent research carried out by NatureScot found that an increase in people engaging with nature has continued after lockdown.
“This project is a great example of how that engagement can deliver real results for pollinators and for people – improving biodiversity while at the same time providing a welcome boost to those taking part at a difficult time.”
Bonnie Dundee is one of 150 groups across Scotland, those who would in previous years have been out creating and maintaining community gardens or allotments, looking after habitats for wildlife and adopting streets as part of It’s Your Neighbourhood.
All groups have been issued with Certificates of Recognition for the work volunteers have carried out to brighten up and pull their communities together during the challenges of the health pandemic.
Despite challenging circumstances this year, with mentoring visits not able to take place due to restrictions across Scotland, entrants were supported with online seminars, networking events, question and answer sessions and a weekly e-newsletter.
If you’d like to join the It’s Your Neighbourhood network in 2021, check out the website for inspiration and details on how to get involved www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/IYN