Life in Glasgow is slowly returning to normal after the heady excitement of hosting the world during COP26. One of the local climate change strands that is set to continue is the intertwined raft of Glasgow City Council pollinator-friendly actions. With Pollinator Parks, wildflower meadow management, masses of planting projects, a thriving nursery and heaps of community-based activities the city can be rightly proud of the progress it is making.
However, Glasgow isn’t a city to rest on its laurels. Take the intriguingly named Green Connectors. A five-year project it will create valuable habitat links throughout the city for pollinators (and other wildlife) by nurturing wildflower meadows, hedges and tree planting in a jigsaw of appropriate sites. The title is a perfect fit for a project that will provide vital natural stepping stones across Scotland’s biggest city.
The first year of the project was awarded £111,000 from the NatureScot Biodiversity Challenge Fund to create green connections within the south west of Glasgow from Dams to Darnley, a designated Local Nature Reserve (LNR), and northwards through Pollok, on to Rosshall Park and the White Cart Water.
This connection identifies and seizes opportunities along existing road and river corridors, parks, amenity managed open green spaces, woodlands and hedgerows to create ‘active travel’ corridors for the benefit of wildlife and people.
Glasgow deservedly earned international plaudits as a great host for the COP event, and that ability to connect with people lies at the heart of this project. A collaboration between Glasgow City Council Parks Development Team and RSPB Scotland you can find out more on the Council’s website.
One of the most impressive aspects of the pollinator friendly work in Glasgow is the fact that it draws what could be seen as individual projects into a greater whole.
The designation of both Hogganfield Park LNR and Queen’s Park as ‘Pollinator Parks’ displays a commitment to habitat management and creation as well as raising awareness of pollinators . Making the changes is one thing, explaining their value is a vital follow up step if the public are to embrace changes that might not be instantly attractive or obviously beneficial. New signage explaining the rationale behind wildflower areas in the pollinator parks will raise awareness of the challenges pollinators face, and how biodiversity loss and climate change are interwoven.
Across a city that famously cherishes its green spaces 13 large meadow sites are being managed by contractors with 15 smaller sites managed by The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) with some assistance from the council’s Parks Development Team. The work of the TCV is significant and amounted to a total of 6 days’ work (168 hours) was carried out at 4 sites – Elder Park, Glasgow Necropolis, Ruchill Park and Springburn Park. A staggering 5000 crocuses were planted on the Cenotaph beds on George Square under the trees which when allied to 40,000 pollinator friendly bulbs in Ruchill Park and Queen’s Park is a mighty contribution to our vital pollinating insects.
Many European cities sport planters and wildflower strips these days, and to deliver maximum benefit to pollinators the items planted have to offer good forage for pollinators. In Glasgow Ajuga (a dazzling blue Bugle), various heathers and pink clusters of Bergenia are used in city centre planters whilst pictorial meadow strips of a metre wide in front of uncut grass were seeded with cornfield annuals. The very action itself is significant, but it is even more impressive when you appreciate that it totals 7500 square metres over 23 sites (roughly equivalent to a car park for around 620 cars).
We’ve covered the Flower Power nursery at Pollok County park before in this blog, but a good story doesn’t tire in the telling. Thanks to volunteer support, and the involvement of both Friends of Pollok Country Park and Friends of Linn Park, this facility is in good shape. Last year was hindered by Covid-19 restrictions, but maintenance and involvement from the two groups mentioned continues and the nursery will be a key element in future ambitions.
The Helping Hands for Butterflies project was another initiative where Glasgow worked with others to maximise potential. Butterfly Conservation Scotland (BCS) were the key partners and harnessing the enthusiasm of a band of volunteers they carried out grassland habitat maintenance and wildflower plug planting on the south-facing side of Ruchill Park. It reaped instant rewards, the tweets of BCS’s Anthony McCluskey, showing six-spot Burnet moth caterpillars in the park, were evidence of the quick changes that can be brought about. There was also meadow preparation at Elder Park, Govan which paved the way to wildflower seeding and plug planting along with the Friends of Elder Park, and the wildflower planting continued at Springburn Park on the other side of the Clyde.
The team behind Yorkhill Green Spaces were one of the most active community groups and we will feature their work in a future blog. Suffice to say at this stage that they really excelled in doing their bit for pollinators and inspiring others to follow suit.
Glasgow captured the world’s attention in early November and if the range of pollinator friendly actions benefitting from Glasgow City Council’s actions are anything to go by it won’t be the last time they hog the headlines. Indeed that old 1980s strapline ‘Glasgow’s Miles Better’ might need dusted down and pressed into action again.
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