Churchyards provide thousands of acres of green oases in communities across the country. Last month’s Churches Count on Nature (CCoN), in which A Rocha UK was a key partner, was a fantastic opportunity to help people understand their local environment and explore the contribution that churches can make to monitoring and conserving wildlife.
Between 3 and 11 June, over 400 CCoN events took place across England and Wales, with churches hosting activities to record the mammals, birds, wildflowers, insects, and fungi in their outdoor spaces. Many also used CCoN as an opportunity to reach out to their community and extended their activities to include photography competitions, history talks and picnics. You can see some great photos of a variety of events here.
Llanidan Church in Brynsiencyn on Anglesey started their event with a service that focused on the environment and caring for their churchyard. After an opportunity to browse a selection of relevant books and leaflets over a cuppa, they got counting!
Over 30 people took part, and the lists were compiled not only in Welsh and English but French too, as there was a Breton gentleman taking part! Almost 80 species of wildflowers were identified, as well as insects and birds. We also discovered there were a variety of different names that the same flowers were known by, especially in Welsh.
Delyth Higgins, Eco Church Officer for Wales, said, ‘It’s been encouraging to see so many churches all across Wales engage with CCoN this year. I’m sure the events will have helped raise the profile of churchyards and church land as areas rich in wildlife. As people have experienced this connection with nature, maybe for the first time, I hope they will continue to appreciate, manage and protect it in their own little patch’.
CCoN records were submitted by each church to the National Biodiversity Network. The data will aid our understanding of what is happening to the wildlife around churches, and this will help us to take more targeted action for nature’s recovery. A summary of the records will be published shortly.
CCoN is jointly run by A Rocha UK and Caring for God’s Acre together with the Church of England and the Church in Wales. CCoN is happening again from 8-16 June 2024 – we hope you can be part of it!