Communities invited to support Aberdeenshire green spaces and biodiversity project

A project that aims to extend and improve green spaces and biodiversity across Aberdeenshire is under way.

The initiative will provide a new approach to the creation and maintenance of green spaces across the area to increase biodiversity and the types of recreation spaces available for communities.

Some of this work is likely to involve changing some grassy areas that are currently regularly cut back, while adding more natural spaces with increased tree planting, woodland areas and wildflower meadows.

One of the key aspects of this project will seek to develop practical enhancements at sites for the benefit of biodiversity, carbon reduction and improved greenspaces, through local community involvement as part of the wider green network.

Greenspace Projects Officers Matthew Watt and Tajana Telisman Sosic are leading the work, which will cover the whole of Aberdeenshire.

While some areas will be identified directly, the team is keen for communities to have a role in shaping the project by identifying sites and through direct involvement.

For several years, many communities across Aberdeenshire have already been involved in providing horticultural displays using plants supplied by the council and these have been planted out in open flower beds, hanging baskets and other containers throughout towns and villages. 

The Greenspace Project Officers will aim to expand these projects to include provision of wildflower mixes and other plants and trees which help address new challenges and enhance natural biodiversity locally.

“The numbers of wild pollinators are in decline and they are a vital part of our biodiversity and wider environment. These wild pollinators are facing several significant pressures arising from changes in land use, habitat fragmentation, diseases, and pesticides,” Matthew explained.

“It is important to help these wild pollinators as they support our economy by contributing to our food and farming industries, and we want to work with communities so they can help shape our work.”

Tajana added: “Meadows need to be recognised for their economic, social and environmental value. As well as the ecological benefits for plant life, insects and animals, there are many benefits for farmers too. Allowing hay crops to grow wild for longer before cutting means they acquire more minerals and fibre, for example.

“Biodiversity hotspots are important as supporting pollinating insects that are valuable for many food crops and as well as they help mitigate flooding by holding on to rainwater and capture vast amounts of carbon.”

The project takes account of a number of national approaches to protecting and enhancing the environment, including the third State of Scotland’s Greenspace Report, the Pollinator Strategy for Scotland 2017-2027 and the Climate Change Bill.

The bill sets a target of a 90% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. However, Scotland is aiming to become one of the first countries to achieve a 100% reduction in carbon emissions.

Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, Cllr Peter Argyle, said: “A meadow is an important and crucial habitat with over 150 different species of flower and grass that support a myriad of insects from bees and beetles to grasshoppers and butterflies, which in turn support many small animals and birds.

“Changes to the mix of open space classification will support the necessary changes, and also result in improved biodiversity in towns and villages.

“While this is likely to lead to a reduction in amenity grass areas, the wider benefits are clear, and we’ve already had some positive feedback where this has been trialed to date. I would encourage communities to get on board and help shape this project.”

To help enhance biodiversity in Aberdeenshire, Tajana and Matthew are encouraging community groups and organisations to get involved in local biodiversity projects. Anybody interested in becoming involved with a project local to their area should get in touch with the greenspace team. Further information and updates are available at: 

Parks and open spaces in Aberdeenshire: https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/environment/greenspace

Greenspace@aberdeenshire.gov.uk

Facebook @AberdeenshireGreenspace

Twitter @GAberdeenshire