Lenka Sukenikova is an Ecologist for Sustrans Scotland’s Greener Greenways Project. We invited her to write a guest blog about the project, reflecting on what is timely in the wake of the Pollinator Strategy for Scotland (2017-2027) being published last month.
Greener Greenways is an SNH-funded initiative to deliver biodiversity enhancements to selected traffic-free routes of the National Cycle Network and engage people in wildlife recording and practical conservation. By enhancing the green routes, we aim to encourage more people to explore their local routes and to get people to walk and cycle for more of the journeys they make every day.
For the last four years, the Greener Greenways team, comprising myself and Laura White, our Volunteer Coordinator for Routes, has worked relentlessly to deliver change and inspire people. We have created partnerships, convinced the landowners, prepared the habitat management proposals, recruited volunteers, delivered wildlife identification and recording training, and given volunteers practical habitat management skills. We have planted hedgerows, created ponds and orchards, eradicated invasive species and we have sown and plug planted and scythed and raked numerous locations where we are creating wildflower meadows and networks of habitats for pollinators.
In the meantime, our volunteers have been busy recording the wildlife on the National Cycle Network and to date over 15 000 records have been submitted either through our custom iRecord form or via our partners’ own recording schemes. Our volunteers’ data contributes to important research and species-trends monitoring carried out by several conservation charities in Scotland.
The project has also caught the attention of our peers. As well as speaking at SNH’s annual Biodiversity Stakeholders Conference in June 2017, the project has recently featured as one of the Green Active Travel Routes Case Studies commissioned by Central Scotland Green Network Trust, alongside green active travel projects in Copenhagen, Hamburg and elsewhere in the UK.
The peer recognition is an indication that we are doing something right. However, actions speak louder than words and what gives me great satisfaction is to see our wildflower meadows awash with flowers and buzzing with insects, and our volunteers caring about their places and acting as wildlife advocates within their local communities. We all know that places that are good for the wildlife are also places that are good for our wellbeing. In the words of the great John Muir, “In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks”.
Lenka Sukenikova is an Ecologist for Sustrans Scotland’s Greener Greenways Project.
All images by Greener Greenways Scotland.