Churches count on nature
We take a look at how churches are regenerating their land and buildings for nature and the environment.
From Net Zero carbon targets to fossil fuel divestment churches are increasingly taking climate change seriously. At a more local level churchyards can be urban green oases, places of peace and quiet, where nature is able to thrive.
Here we investigate three initiatives that churches near you might be taking part in.
Churches Count on Nature
Churches Count on Nature is run by Caring for God’s Acre, a charity which supports groups and individuals to investigate, care for, and enjoy burial grounds and graveyards. June 2021 saw the Churches Count on Nature week help churches to benchmark the biodiversity in their churchyards. The citizen science project helps churches celebrate what’s already there and identify what they can do to improve their land for nature.
Bedfordshire is part of the Diocese of St Albans which runs a Living Churchyards project to help churches manage their churchyards in a wildlife friendly way. Advice and help comes from the local Wildlife Trust.
Both these schemes acknowledge the need for contemplative spaces for visitors and try and balance the needs of people and wildlife.
It is a wide ranging programme where churches score points across five categories – Worship & Teaching, Land, Buildings, Community & Global Engagement, and Lifestyle – progressing through Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards.
Churches from right across Bedfordshire are registered, they come from a number of different denominations and some have already achieved awards. You can explore an online map to find out what’s happening in your area, some churches may be running projects that the local community can get involved with, such as litter picks, hosting recycling bins or practical conservation work.
Earlier this year Canon Chris Beales from the Archbishop’s Commission on Housing Church and Community spoke to the CPRE network about the Coming Home report which looks at how church land could be used to provide rural affordable housing or affordable and social housing developments on urban brownfield sites. The report recognises the importance of energy efficient buildings, allotments, green spaces, footpaths into local countryside and sustainable transport links when considering new developments.