05 March 2010
A cherished churchyard in Sheriff Hutton
Thousands of growing churches are preparing to celebrate Cherishing Churchyards Week this June as part of the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity.
The nationwide project is being run by conservation charity Caring for God’s Acre (CfGA) and is supported by the CofE’s national environmental campaign Shrinking the Footprint. There are an estimated 12,000 CofE churchyards. Around half of them already run biodiversity projects, in rural and urban areas, while remaining respectful to their users, particularly family and friends of those buried there.
During the week (Friday June 18 to Sunday June 27) CfGA is encouraging churches to run an event to raise awareness and celebrate the treasures of their churchyard. Last year, activities included; church tower tours, scything workshops, guided walks and talks, flower identification, family events and storytelling.
Shrinking the Footprint is encouraging churches to submit wildlife discoveries and projects as part of a new central database.
CfGA spokesperson Andrea Gilpin said: "Churchyards are unique and special places. Each one is packed full of interesting natural and built features ranging from the beautiful ancient yew trees to the gravestones telling the stories of past Parish inhabitants."
David Shreeve, the CofE’s environment adviser, said: “With its thousands of churchyards in both urban and rural settings, the Church has a major national park involving a vast amount of biodiversity in its care for the whole community. As this is a special year for biodiversity, we would like to start recording this so that we can make everyone aware and appreciate just how important the country’s churchyards are for both nature and people.”
See www.caringforgodsacre.org.uk for logos and tip sheets
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International Year of Biodiversity, www.biodiversityislife.net