Wildlife Trusts around the UK are encouraging us all to go wild every day this June, and they have plenty of ideas as to how you can do it.
The idea is that we all do one Random Act of Wildness each day, and connect with nature and the natural world around you, or do something small to help nature. This is a great opportunity to find out more about the wildlife local to you and appreciate the wonders of the natural world.
Each Random Act of Wildness doesn’t have to be particularly energetic, either. Sitting under a tree listening to birdsong constitutes a wild act - which I did yesterday and I have to confess to having fallen asleep. Reading a nature book could be another. Working out which bird is sitting on your fence could be another. And of course helping nature could be another – putting a bird feeder up in your garden, creating a log pile, allocating an area where you’re going to let the weeds grow with abandon, or sow wildflowers.
Over 45,000 people have signed up so far to Go Wild in June.
People of all ages can sign up so you can join in as a family – get the kids away from their ipads or smartphone thingies for once. And it’s a chance to discover all about the wildlife your local Wildlife Trust is working to protect – and find out how you can help.
There are 47 Wildlife Trusts in the UK, and they all have a range of activities you can get involved in, and lots of ways in which you can Go Wild this June. You can sign up as yourself and family, or your class/school or your workplace. There are posters you can download and pin up so that you can record your acts of wildness and there’s an app as well.
There's a saying, "what goes around, comes around" and you could apply that to rubbish.
The problem is that when we let a balloon go, or chuck a plastic bag away, there's no telling where the wind will take it. Bags are just taken with the wind, out of rubbish bins, land fill, rubbish trucks, and there's no way of knowing where it will come to land.
The good news is that this is slightly lower than the previous year. And the number of plastic bags almost HALVED in a year - probably, the MCS thinks, due to the plastic bag charge which was introduced, where shoppers taking a plastic bag are charged 5p. This shows that legislation CAN make a difference.
In China similarly, a limit on ultra-thin plastic bags significantly reduced bag-related polution. According to Chinese government estimates, 40 BILLION bags were not used.
Many countries have also introduced bag limits in recent years. And why wouldn't they? Countries who really care about the health and wellbeing of ALL their citizens, people and animals, will take steps like this.
Plastic bags can take 100 years plus to decompose. They gradually break down into small pieces over periods over time. Eventually. And they soak up toxins. Fish, turtles and whales think they are food They eat them and these toxins enter the food chain. The Ocean Conservancy recently said that platic bags are the second most deadly threat to sea surtles, birds and marine mammals.
Getting rid of thin plastic bags will be easier than removing debris. It will be cheaper, and save local and national governments and taxpayers everywhere paying for rubbish pick-ups.
One dead whale was discovered to have "enough plastic bags and fishing nets in its stomacy to fill an excavator bucket".
It's time to move to ban plastic bags full stop.
Another thing we need to change
And there's another thing. Balloon rubbish is on the way up. Please don't let go of balloons. I often pick up balloons on walks with my dog - I spot them across a field and go to investigate. I take them home and bin them. But I still can't be sure of where they end up.
The Marine Conservation Society found that balloon rubbish was up about 50% on our beaches. Widllife think they are something to eat and they can get strangled by the string we use to hold on to balloons. Balloons can block digestive systems, so animals starve.
If people can change their behaviour for the better and reduce their use of plastic bags, we can do the same for balloons. The MCS's aim is to stop all intentional balloon and lantern releases around the UK and to get balloons and lanterns classed as litter and they have a Don't Let Go campaign. Meantime, you can help put pressure on your council by encouraging them and nudging them to ban the intentional release of balloons and sky lanterns on their land. And you can use alternative ideas to balloons.
Thanks to the supporters of the Buy an Acre scheme, 546 acres of cloud forest has been saved in Ecuador and Mexico.
The funds from the Buy an Acre Mexico donations were used to buiy two properties which extend the Cerro Prieto-Cerro la Luz reserve by over 350 acres. The Lands for Conservation Chief at GESG, Roberto Pedraza Ruiz, says "there is not solid forest as far as the eye can see, and it is now a huge reserve". A visit to the site 2 years ago had brought about the discovery that someone had been logging 40 year old cedars for timber.
And Buy an Acre Ecuador purchased another two properties which extend the Nangaritz Reserve by just under 200 acres. It protects a unique ecosystem where the Andes meets the Amazonian foothill forest. A lot of this land has been degraded as a result of clearing land for grazing cattle, but now the land has become part of the estate, it will given the opportunity to regenerate to its former state.
The area has amazing biodiversity, with animals such as the critically endangered Limon Harliquin Frog, the Orange Throated Tanger and mammals such as the jaguar, the spectacled bear, the mountain tapir and ocelot.
National Tree Week takes place from 26th November to 4th December in 2016. Celebrate all things tree and branch out with these leafy activities! National Tree Week is organised by the Tree Council - it's the largest tree celebration in the UK and it launches the start of the winter tree planting season.
This is a great opportunity to do something positive for trees in your area.
10 Tree Things to Do
Send a tree through the post Yes, honestly. There’s a tree (or a bush) for everyone even in a hallway or on a balcony. Rather than send flowers which don’t last, send a tree or bush which will last longer. Some trees/bushes even produce things you can eat…. Tree2mydoor.com is to trees what a florist is to flowers so this Christmas why not send a tree as a gift?
Hunt for ancient trees Help the hunt for Ancient Trees and help boost the ancient tree inventory. This is a great outdoors activity, aided by the fact you can choose the day (and weather) on which to do it. Your family can go hunting for ancient trees and if you find one, let the Woodland Trust know about it. It helps them lobby to protect ancient trees and care for them, and plan for their proteciton in the future. The Woodland Trust has a leaflet for children with activities to do.
Plant a tree or join a community plant From small trees to the mighty oak, you can plant a tree in your garden or join a community project and enjoy it for years. Get your community planting trees or volunteer to help on a tree planting near you. This is a great way to meet new people and make friends and get all earthy. The Woodland Trust has more information on community planting
Who lives in woodland and trees? Wildlife need our woodland and our trees. Discover who lives in our woodlands and trees and our forests. The Wildlife Trust and Woodland Trust both have information about who lives there.
Become a tree surgeon This could be a great career for anyone who loves the outdoors life and trees! Tree surgeons plant, they fell, they care for and maintain trees and assess their hazards. You can find more info at the National Careers Service website here and The Arboricultural Association has information as well.
Be a tree warden for the Tree Council The Tree Warden Scheme is a national initiative to enable people to play an active role in conserving and enhancing their local trees and woods. The scheme was founded and is co-ordinated by The Tree Council.
Plant a tree in memory My wonderful Dad died in 2013. Birthdays and Christmases are difficult. I felt I wanted to mark events such as this in some way so I’ve started planting a tree in Dad’s memory for these occasions and Father’s Day. So far, I’ve planted a tree with the Alderney Wildlife Trust, the Woodland Trust in Sussex and 5 trees in Ecuador with the World Land Trust, all in his name and memory. It took a while for the idea to surface, but I do smile at the thought of trees being dedicated to Dad all over the world. I try to find a link between each tree and Dad. He was a Winnie the Pooh fan, so I planted a tree in Sussex which is Winnie the Pooh country. Campaign for Trees The Woodland Trust campaigns for Trees – visit their website to see if there are any campaign's you could support. Examples include being a voice for trees and woods, telling the Trust about threats to ancient woods, and taking action in your community. Find out what you can do to help
Visit Trees for Cities Trees for Cities is working to make cities greener places in which to live and visit world wide. There are opportunities to volunteer, either as an individual or a corporate entity. Since 1993, over 70,000 people have planted over 600,000 urban trees in parks, streets, schools and housing estates across the UK, as well as internationally.