Science Behind Left Spaces

The Let It Grow campaign is all about raising awareness about what people can do for local biodiversity. However, it is not just about awareness, but also about showing people what they can do to help biodiversity. One way of slightly relieving the pressure on local species is by creating ‘Left Spaces’. Left spaces are areas set aside to let native species of living things thrive – from window boxes and balconies through to public parks and unused community spaces, they form mini-ecosystems that provide a home for organisms both large and small.

This is not only effective in an urban setting, but also in areas dominated by agriculture. Large spaces of land dedicated to one crop can result in the loss and fragmentation of habitats,
leading in some cases to species decline, especially that of bees. However, adding flower patches to the surrounding areas, might help the bee population. A recent study has shown that sowing larger patches of flowers can increase bumblebee reproduction in areas surrounding farms. You can read more information about this research here. It is very encouraging to read that various biodiversity conservation strategies put into place are effective and that there is hope yet if we continue to Let It Grow!

International Day For Biodiversity a Worldwide Succes!

Last week Monday, 22 May, was the International Day for Biological Diversity and Let It Grow participants celebrated it all over the world. From Bangladesh to Brazil; EAZA, BGCI, Ecsite members and other institutions organised events and activities to celebrate the beauty of biodiversity. Families, schools, and even armadillos all joined in the fun. Below are a few examples of the many initiatives taken by Let It Grow participants. A huge thank you to everyone who joined in the celebrations. What a great way to Let It Grow!

Plant Conservation and Research Foundation, an associated member of BGCI, joint in the celebrations by planting native plants in the Botanical Garden at Bangladesh Agricultural University. Parque de las Ciencias in Spain also offered a special tours through areas with Mediterranean vegetation, allowing visitors to recognise the value of their own biodiversity heritage and the need to preserve it.
The Natural Sciences Museum in Barcelona held their annual BioBlitz. Together with 728 participants and 40 specialists, 287 species were identified! In Pécs Zoo in Hungary, not only the guests took part in the activities, two large hairy armadillos joined in and helped dig holes to plant trees.

Join the celebration!

The celebrations have started! Starting from today and carrying on throughout the weekend and even on to next week; participants of the Let It Grow campaign will be celebrating the International Day for Biological Diversity, Monday 22 May. They will be hosting events all across the world!

Today kicked off with Let It Grow on location. Our campaign coordinator was out and about and visited a primary school in The Netherlands and told them all about biodiversity and local Dutch species. Afterwards the children built an insect hotel right in their schoolyard.

Keep an eye on the Let It Grow website and Facebook page to see the wonderful events that institutions across the world are organising and join the celebration!

How to hold a BioBlitz

Involving visitors in certain activities is a very efficient and fun way to engage and educate them on various topics. A biodiversity measurement event, such as a BioBlitz, is a great example of this. it enables guests to interact with nature, learn from experts and also have a lot of fun.

These kind of activities fit perfectly within the scope of the campaign and participants are very much encouraged to hold one at their institutions this year. It is also a nice suggestion for an activity on 22 May, the International Day for Biological Diversity (for more activities inspiration, click here).

In the spring issue of Zooquaria, EAZA’s quarterly publication, two zoo educators from participating institutions have written about their experiences in holding a BioBlitz last year. Please read their fascinating stories here, and feel free to be inspired and to Let It Grow!

 

Photo courtesy of Zoological Society of East Anglia

 

 

Biodiversity Inspiration

As you might know, Monday, May 22 is the International Day for Biological Diversity. This day is a great moment promote biodiversity by organising special activities for visitors. This year we want to go big for the Let It Grow campaign!

Over the past months we have encouraged participants to make plans for a biodiversity event at their institutions on 22 May, or the weekend of 20-21 May. We hope you have been able to plan something that suits your institution. Just in case you haven’t been able to, here are some examples of what other participants are doing.

Odense Zoo in Denmark will be hosting a 3-day event with bioblitz activities on all three days. They will also be working together with the Danish Society for Nature Conservation. Perhaps a 3-day happening is a bit to much to ask from your institution, however you might be able to organise something smaller. For example, Casa delle Farfalle di Bordano in Italy is inviting guests on a guided tour through nature, to look for native insects, butterflies, amphibia and small mammals. Or, if your institution has an area in need of sprucing up, you could invite schoolchildren over to help plant new local plant species; like Gaia Zoo in The Netherlands will be doing. Some other suggestions are:

– Building insect hotels and birdhouses with your guests.
– Host a networking and sustainability event for your community’s local businesses.
– Work with your local municipality to create ‘left spaces’ around the city and encourage visitors to help at these spaces on world Biodiversity Day.

Feel free to browse through the Resources section of the website as well, for some more inspiration. Please keep us and the rest of the Let It Grow community updated on your activities, by sending your stories, photos, and experiences to info@letitgrow.eu. Let’s keep each other inspired and Let It Grow!

Photo courtesy of West Midland Safari Park

Call to Action for Let It Grow!

The International Day for Biological Diversity will be celebrated on Monday, 22 May 2017. This day has been specially declared by the United Nations in order to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. It is also a great moment promote biodiversity and the Let It Grow campaign to your visitors and community.

This year we want to go really big! We ask you to make plans for a biodiversity event at your institution on 22 May, or the weekend of 20-21 May. This can be whatever suits your institution, a whole spectrum of activities is possible:

– Build insect hotels and birdhouses with your guests.
– Host a networking and sustainability event for your community’s local businesses.
– Collaborate with local partners and organise excursions to natural areas in your vicinity.
– Host a citizen science event such as a BioBlitz (biodiversity measurement).
– Work with your local municipality to create ‘left spaces’ around the city and encourage visitors to help at these spaces on world Biodiversity Day.

Many institutions already have a history of celebrating this special day; so it’s also absolutely fine to give the “Let It Grow” label to a local biodiversity event, programme or workshop you were already planning to run. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel!

We would love to know what you have planned. Send your stories, initiatives and experiences to (info@letitgrow.eu). We’ll be happy to share them with the world. Don’t forget to add the hashtag #letitgrowcampaign to your stories on social media. Good luck and Let It Grow!

Photo courtesy of Sóstó Zoo

Let It Grow Handbook Available!

We are happy to announce that a new campaign resource is online. Together, the three organising associations have created the Let It Grow campaign handbook.

The handbook provides additional information for campaign participants. Besides providing background and general information on the campaign, it also provides an overview of the resources that members can find on the website, including what kinds of resources are available and how to use them. Links to scientific information on biodiversity and related topics, including native species and ecosystem services, are also provided. This information could be useful when planning Let It Grow activities or related projects. A few suggestions such as interesting international days to keep in mind while planning, and also the main campaign’s timeline are also included. Members and participants are invited to join, get inspired, connect with new partners and use the campaign resources to the fullest. You can find the handbook here. Enjoy!

Let It Grow Hits 200 Participants!

Hurrah! Another milestone for the Let It Grow campaign, we now have 200 participants! We are very excited to have this many zoos, botanic garden, science centres, and natural history museums joining us. We are also very happy that the campaign has branched out beyond Europe, now having participants in North and South America; Asia and Africa.

Not a participant yet? That’s not a problem, you can still sign up. Simply fill in the form and you’re good to go! Sign up now and join the campaign by organizing an event to interact with you visitors on 22 May, the International Day for Biological Diversity.

World Wildlife Day

Happy World Wildlife Day everyone! The UN World Wildlife Day (WWD) is the global celebration of the beauty and diversity of wild animals and plants on our planet. It is also an occasion to raise awareness for the many benefits that conservation provides to both wildlife and people; and the current status of many threatened or endangered species.

The theme of this year’s celebration is ‘Listen to the Young Voices’, with a focus on connecting young people around the world to explore what wildlife conservation and protection mean to them and instil a responsibility in them to take action for the future of both wild animals and plants. Engaging young citizens with conservation issues is vital, as they will be the decision makers of tomorrow.

The efforts of raising awareness and engaging people with conservation goes beyond one day a year. That is why the Let It Grow campaign will be emphasising these again on 22 May 2017, the International Day for Biological Diversity. So join the campaign and help us encourage citizens to consider how they can help biodiversity by organising an event for this special day. This year we want to go big and host a series of events all across Europe. So carry the spirit of today on to the future and join us 22 May!

Already organising an event, or interested in doing so? Fantastic! Send an email to info@letitgrow.eu and we’ll help share your initiative with the world.

Photo from Sóstó Zoo

Let It Grow for Urban Butterflies

A recent study on urban indicators for UK butterflies shows how relevant and important campaigns such as ‘Let It Grow’ are. When researching the 28 different species of butterfly found in the UK, it became clear that for all 28 species the abundance trends were negative in urban areas. Butterflies are also in decline in the countryside, but at a slower rate than in the cities. The rate of decline in the urban setting can be attributed to various reasons, including the loss of green space, the neglect of park areas and an increased use of pesticide in gardens. The trend of turning lawns and flower beds into driveways and patios has also contributed to the increased decline.

There’s are a surprising amount of possibilities in an urban setting that can be used to encourage native species. From window boxes and balconies through to public parks and unused community spaces. All of it has potential to provide a home to local species of living things – if we get to work and provide the conditions that nature needs to work its magic. We therefore encourage you to investigate the possibilities of setting up let spaces in and around your institution, perhaps in cooperation with local botanical gardens or nurseries. Left spaces are great way to encourage the public to partake in the campaign and make a difference. Why not invite visitors to help create left spaces for World Biodiversity Day on 22 May 2017? If you aren’t a participant of the campaign yet, click here to join the campaign.