Communities encouraged to chronicle nature in their churchyards

Children and adults are being invited into churchyards to help chronicle their nature and wildlife.

An event called Churches Count on Nature is being promoted as a way to reach out to the community as well as to understand the natural world better.

The June event, organised by churches and cathedrals up and down England and Wales, took place last year and 17,232 pieces of data were collected.

Jointly organised by The Church of England, the Church in Wales, the conservation charities A Rocha UK, and Caring for God’s Acre, it is a cross-denominational event, open to anyone.

Last year more than 540 activities and events were organised as part of Churches Count on Nature and more than 1,500 species were recorded.

This year’s event will take place during the same week as Love Your Burial Ground Week (4-12th June).

Rt Rev Graham Usher, the Bishop of Norwich and lead Church of England bishop for the environment, encouraged churches to start preparing.

He said: “Churchyards and gardens are an incredible home of biodiversity, making up thousands of acres of green oases in every community of the country. Last year, hundreds of parishes got their local community searching for insects and plants in their open spaces.

“Jesus noticed nature and so must we. The gospels are full of stories of the growth of seeds, the choking of thistles, the beauty of lilies and the fruitfulness of trees. We have the privilege and responsibility to care for the earth and to tread gently on it.”

Last year, many parishes used Churches Count on Nature as an opportunity to reach out to its local community. Isabel Carter of St Laurence’s Stretton said her church encouraged both usual congregants and passers-by to “brush up their plant ID skills.”

She said: “A week later there was a Messy Church outdoors session after school. We had over 20 children and adults using an ID sheet produced by Churches Count on Nature. The youngsters were very enthusiastic in seeking and identifying flowers.”