As our largest city, with a rich industrial history, you may not immediately think of Glasgow as a place for pollinators. However, make no mistake: Glasgow is more than doing its bit for our pollinators, as SNH Pollinator Strategy Manager Jim Jeffrey found out when he met with Carol MacLean (Biodiversity Officer) and Allison Greig (Senior Countryside Ranger) at the magnificent Pollok Country Park.
When it comes to managing the public greenspaces that Glasgow owns the City Council has a great story to tell.
Take their commitment to meadow creation and management for instance. This is a huge bonus for our pollinating insects. Not only is this vital habitat being created across the city, but by taking some of the seed production for this work ‘in house’ the team in Glasgow can be confident of the provenance of their seeds and be masters of their own destiny when it comes to the composition and scheduling of their new meadows.
It takes real effort and considerable skill to manage seed production and in Glasgow this is done under the Glasgow’s Flower Power banner. The flower nursery is based at the beautiful and tranquil Pollok Country Park — it’s an exciting project and radical departure for a city that was internationally recognised as a byword for heavy industrial settings not so long ago.
They say that many hands make light work and the Flower Power initiative benefits from welcome input from volunteer groups who are a key part of delivering this work, thus helping to enhance local greenspace and biodiversity.
Visitors who want to see some of Glasgow’s fabulous urban wildflower meadows are spoiled for choice on locations to visit. Local Nature Reserves at Hogganfield Park and Robroyston Park are fine examples, along with Ruchill Park and Alexandra Park.
Creating a wildflower meadow is one thing. Making it widely popular is another, especially when it involves a change in land use. Glasgow City Council tackled this challenge head on and have very sensibly created signage that raises awareness of the value of wildflower meadows and explains why a shift from regularly mown amenity grassland to seemingly wild areas is something that the public should enjoy and value in the knowledge that they are helping biodiversity. And rest assured that in a football-mad city like Glasgow there is room for both football pitches and wildflower meadows on council lands.
Having created and promoted the value of a wildflower meadow the next step is to manage the site thereafter. On a practical level Glasgow’s meadows are cut by different teams. On a larger scale meadow a contractor, who will be well-briefed, carries out the work, whilst Glasgow City Council-LES and volunteers deal with the smaller meadows. In addition to these organised teams there are lots of groups involved in wildflower planting across the city to improve habitats for wildlife and pollinators.
There are several strands to the management of Glasgow’s Parks and greenspaces – and a stack of opportunities. There isn’t space in a short article to do them all justice, but bee banks have been created at Alexandra Park and Cardowan Moss (to name but two sites) and the council work with Butterfly Conservation to carry out surveys at various city sites to monitor the status of these often unsung pollinators.
Glasgow City Council staff value their pollinators – a lot – and that’s why the city produced a Glasgow Pollinator Plan which aims to support the National Pollinator Strategy with local action. It’s that foresight and sense of connection that typifies the sound approach Glasgow takes to its biodiversity commitments.
The health benefits of nature in city settings are clearly increasingly recognised. The role that urban areas can provide in providing habitats for species are equally seen as incredibly valuable. On that basis Glasgow has much to be proud of and is very much ‘Still Game’ when it comes to improving the lot of people and nature.
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