UK Churches to host wildlife celebration in their graveyards

UK Churches to host wildlife celebration in their graveyards

In an effort to celebrate the richness of biodiversity in churchyards and cemeteries, the UK is gearing up for a week-long event this June that promises to highlight the diverse array of wildlife these spaces harbour.

"From wildflowers to insects, birds, and mammals, all creatures great and small have found a haven in the UK’s burial grounds for centuries," according to a statement by the Church in Wales.

Scheduled from 8th-16th June, Love your burial ground week and Churches count on nature aims to bring communities together to explore and document the natural beauty within these sacred grounds. The initiative is orchestrated by Caring for God’s Acre with support from notable organisations including the Church in Wales, the Church of England, and A Rocha UK.

Harriet Carty, Director of Caring for God’s Acre, said in a statement: "Over the past three years, 1,300 events have taken place, involving more than 24,500 participants... Communities have taken decisive action... installing boxes for visiting swifts [and] adjusting cutting regimes to allow wildflowers to flourish.”

The Archbishop of Wales, Andrew John, has encouraged participation: “We are blessed with churchyards rich in plant and animal life... Churches Count on Nature during Love Your Burial Ground week... is an easy and fun way to do just that."

Helen Stephens from A Rocha UK highlighted the pressing need for conservation: “We have rich and stunning nature in the UK, but much of it is under threat like never before. There is a significant role for us to play in our churches and on church land in helping protect and restore nature."

The Rev Graham Usher of the Church of England also shared his enthusiasm, saying: “I hope many congregations will take part... Last year I particularly enjoyed finding out about some of the colourful rare lichens that grow on gravestones. These wonderful species are all part of God’s rich creation."

This collaborative event not only aims to raise awareness about the ecological value of churchyards but also "fosters a sense of community and shared" responsibility towards protecting and nurturing wildlife within these spaces.