Hundreds of local volunteers came together on Siston Common in Kingswood last weekend to plant over 7,000 wildflower plants into a new meadow created by South Gloucestershire Council.
The mass planting marked the start of the Commons Connections project a £1.26 million project to increase, improve and better connect important habitats across South Gloucestershire for nature that will also include the planting over 6,000 new trees to help address biodiversity decline.
A day of events included not just the planting, but activities for children and the whole community in and around the Kingsmead Made Forever Community Hub, designed to capture the imagination of residents of all ages. Children were shown how pollinators carry out their vital work to help plants grow through games. They were taken on bug hunts and shown how to make bee hotels.
The Friends of Siston Common took people on nature tours to showcase the local habitats and the variety of plant life the area already hosts, sharing their wealth of knowledge about the common and its wildlife.
South Gloucestershire Council Leader and lead for climate action, councillor Toby Savage, and Cabinet member with responsibility for regeneration and environment, councillor Steve Reade, joined visitors taking part in the activities and saw how communities working together can make a positive impact on the green spaces in their local area and benefit the wider environment.
Councillor Savage said: “We are in a climate and environmental emergency and when the council declared this, we said we wanted to take meaningful action to improve the world we live in. Bringing the community together for activities like this shows that individuals and groups in our neighbourhoods want to do their part too and transforming this grassland into a wildflower meadow will have a real impact. And every year as the flowers bloom and the buzz of bees and other pollinators heralds the arrival of spring, we will be reminded that the actions we take today will bring lasting benefits.
“This effort is a crucial part of the Common Connections project that we have begun, which will help protect and increase habitats for wildlife right across this part of South Gloucestershire. These areas will be wonderful places for us to visit, relax and spend time with nature, but they will also help build biodiversity and resilience in the natural world that surrounds us and that we must work hard to protect.”
Councillor Reade added: “It was wonderful to meet locals, young and old, who wanted to give up their time to contribute to their area. We are so grateful to the Friends of Siston Common, Made Forever, Grow Wilder and Avon Wildlife Trust’s team and volunteers, and AEK Boco Football Club who donated their time to make the day a success.”
The Common Connections project will include habitat and access improvements to green spaces in South Gloucestershire.
Improvements will be made to links between registered common land, unimproved grasslands, woodlands and associated habitats along the South Gloucestershire/Bristol border. Tree and wildflower planting will take place alongside the conservation of grassland habitats as well as pond creation and restoration.
The project additionally aims to raise awareness of conservation and biodiversity and encourage people to visit the sites for their health and wellbeing benefits.
The day also hosted the ceremony to give out the region’s first ever Bee Bold Awards, run by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA). The awards scheme aims to highlight the vital work that pollinators do in our ecosystems and encourage more people to take bee and other pollinator-friendly steps in their gardens and open spaces.
Among the winners in the People for nature category, which recognised organisations that engage their employees, customers, partners and local communities to create spaces for nature; were Thornbury Orchard.
In the Space for Nature category, which recognised organisations that have created gardens and other pollinator-friendly spaces within their workplaces, were Ecus Ltd an environmental consultancy in Littleton-Upon-Severn.