Parks took care of us during lockdown: we need to take care of them now
Staying inside during Covid-19 lockdown was tough, especially for the one in 11 of us in the local area who don’t have access to a garden. Spending time outdoors in some of our 100+ open spaces was our lifeline and many of us discovered previously unknown places and new favourite walks. Bournemouth Parks Foundation, a small, local environment charity, are now asking residents to donate to help them improve our local parks and green spaces.
70% of us said that parks have had a positive impact on improving their physical and mental health during lockdown. We were given the time to look, listen and appreciate our surroundings. We heard birdsong as never before and we are now seeing wilder parks with increased wildlife, thanks to the reduced mowing that took place and the increase in wildflower numbers and, dare we say, weeds! As weeds grew, so too did the number and variety of bees, butterflies and moths. A dandelion can support 107 different insects, whilst long grass is great for butterflies, and longer vegetation supports ground beetles, ants and spiders, as well as places for hedgehogs, voles, mice, and birds to live and feed.
Cathi Farrer, Bournemouth Parks Foundation Manager, said: “Our parks and open spaces have really taken care us during lockdown and have been a lifeline to lots of our community members as part of their daily exercise.
“We know that spending time in our parks, whether that be walking, exercising, reading or playing, reduces our anxiety and depression. That time has been calculated to save the NHS £111M per year in reduced GP visits alone. Even something as simple as exercising outside has been found to be better for us than exercising indoors.
“It’s now our opportunity to take care of our parks by donating to our fundraising appeal. Money raised will be used for ongoing improvement of parks, to provide more wildflower planting, for bee, butterfly and bug hotels, and for our improved good health.”
Cllr Felicity Rice, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Climate Change for BCP Council, which works closely with the charity, added: ““Bournemouth Parks Foundation is a really inspirational charity, aimed at putting parks and wellbeing back into the centre of our residents’ lives and developing parks into places that we grow up loving.
We all know that councils are struggling with funding cuts, and over recent decades parks and open spaces have been severely affected due to lack of investment. This is a way of donating directly to where you want to see improvements made, tacking the climate emergency and protecting our parks and open spaces for future generations.”
You can donate online or by using one of two contactless donation points in Bournemouth’s Lower Gardens (at the aviary and near The Pavilion) or a third located near the Visitor Centre at Hengistbury Head.