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Earthwatch launches new platform to protect UK biodiversity

Environmental charity Earthwatch Europe has launched a new digital platform to support community wildlife project Naturehood. Designed to develop a network of thousands of local people who each do tiny actions for nature in their neighbourhoods, the aim is to create a tapestry of habitats that, combined on a national basis, will help protect and increase biodiversity in the UK.

In March, days before lockdown, Earthwatch created the UK’s first tiny forest, an area the size of a tennis court planted with 600 different native trees, to create a fast-growing dense forest. The Naturehood campaign follows the same approach, centring on the need to connect communities to support biodiversity. It aims to create an army of people across the country each taking a tiny step for nature, who together will make a difference.

Research conducted by Earthwatch during lockdown proved how valuable being near nature is for mental wellbeing, with 67% of all adults in the UK saying that looking at nature left them with a sense of calm. The community approach of the Naturehood programme takes this further and invites people to sign up and become actively involved with nature, taking small positive steps for biodiversity.

Once signed up to Naturehood, people will be offered a choice of different activities in their local area which will vary in scale and approach, for example making a leaf or log pile, creating a gap in fencing to act as a wildlife passageway or surveying green spaces for wildlife. The activities have been selected based on scientific evidence of their impact on increasing or protecting biodiversity. An accompanying online platform will allow people to select actions, network and share ideas and activities.

The important aspect is that hundreds of people can make a small action for nature in their own neighbourhoods, which will be coordinated to make a collective difference. Stanford scientist BH Fogg, author of ‘Tiny Habits’ has described how making a behaviour ‘radically tiny’ can be the cornerstone to achieving successful change. Earthwatch’s Naturehood incorporates this approach where no step is too small to take, to encourage more people to sign up and begin ‘the small changes that change everything’.

Nick Baker and Michaela Strachan, who presented the BBC’s Really Wild Show, are both supporting the Naturehood project, alongside ‘Urban birder’ David Lindo. They are all keen to show how this new platform makes it easy for anyone to take a step toward helping nature in their area:

Ben Williams, Earthwatch project manager for Naturehood, explained why this particular platform is all about connecting neighbourhoods and people: “Loss of habitat and biodiversity is one of the most urgent environmental issues of our time. Since 1970, 41% of UK species have declined, but if we each created one new tiny habitat or protected one small area in our neighbourhoods, and we connect these actions up, it will make a difference. We can help hold back that loss, or even bring back more species to your area. By signing up to Naturehood we can work together to make a real difference to biodiversity in the UK.”

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