‘Cooperation’ is one of our five core commitments at A Rocha UK and we work collaboratively with other organisations and within coalitions to take action for nature locally and achieve collective impact. In a critical year, our conservation team has been involved in two significant initiatives both at home and abroad:
Churches Count on Nature
Between 5-13 June, in partnership with Caring for God’s Acre, The Church of England and the Church of Wales, A Rocha UK ran a week-long ‘nature count’. Churches Count on Nature encouraged church congregations to count wildlife on their church land as part of National Burial Grounds Week. An impressive 500 churches submitted 21,000 recordings to the National Biodiversity Network database during the nine-day period. Many communities discovered nature on their doorstep for the first time and noted down how many animals, birds, insects or fungi were thriving in their churchyard. The project has helped to build a picture nationwide of nature trends in the face of climate change and habitat loss and assess the importance of churchyards for biodiversity and wildlife in the UK.
Andy Lester, A Rocha UK’s Head of Conservation says, “As the climate changes, our church spaces can be havens for many species of bird, mammal and insect that are needing shelter from the heat or storms or a source of food during the breeding season. Churches Count on Nature has shown how managing church land for nature and recording wildlife in churchyards and burial grounds really counts!”
Besides promoting and encouraging churchyard conservation, the project’s aim was to create links with schools and wildlife groups, and to invite people who might never have been in a churchyard to appreciate the quiet space that they offer, especially in urban areas. According to follow-up survey results, an estimated 10,000 individuals engaged with recording wildlife across the 9-day count period. Approximately a quarter of those who participated were not from the church community. We are thrilled that the pilot project has gone so well and will be working with our partners to assess the full results and possible further collaborations in the years to come.
Seeds of Hope
In 2020 A Rocha UK launched its first overseas Partner In Action with ‘The Rock Christian Fellowship’ church on the island of St Helena in the South Atlantic. The church is passionate about sharing God’s love and good news with the local community as well as caring for nature. Working in partnership with The Rock Christian Fellowship and Every Home for Christ, the Seeds of Hope project has so far delivered packages of sunflower and pumpkin seeds to 25% of the two hundred homes on the island.
The seeds, when they flower, will provide a great source of food for the island’s many endemic pollinators – species found in this place and nowhere else on earth! St Helena has the largest list of endemic pollinator species for any UK Overseas Territories and significantly more than the UK mainland – 502 compared to 90. The project has also been a great tool to reach out to the local community and express Christ’s love to them through caring for the surrounding environment.
We look forward to more opportunities to collaborate with others in sharing God’s love for all of his creation and inspiring people to take action for nature locally.