A range of actions to boost biodiversity in public spaces

‘Nature Networks East Lothian’ is a project developed by East Lothian Council to identify, explore, provide advice on and deliver nature network opportunities supported by our communities, in suitable areas of council owned and managed parks and greenspaces across the county’s towns and villages.

Earlier this year East Lothian Council was awarded £23,865 by Greenspace Scotland, from the Scottish allocation of the Levelling Up Parks Fund provided to the Scottish Government by the UK Government, to support delivery of a nature restoration in parks action plan programme to improve Nature Networks for East Lothian’s communities. The first stage was a month-long public consultation launched in June which received a total of 370 responses with 455 additional comments and suggestions about the project.

Amongst the key findings from the consultation:

  • 92% of survey respondents felt strongly that local parks and greenspaces were important to them.
  • 63% of respondents live less than a 5 minute walk away from their nearest park / greenspace, and
  • 83% of respondents have visited their local park / greenspace more than once a week or more often within the last 12 months
  • 81% of respondents strongly agreed that they wanted to see more nature and biodiversity enhancement across East Lothian’s parks and greenspaces.
  • 89% of respondents strongly agreed that nature is important to them.
  • All of the nature network options were strongly supported by respondents. Survey respondents wanted to see more pollinator friendly planting (87% of respondents), meadows (84%), tree planting (82%), street trees (80%) and hedgerows (79%), woodland (77%), raingardens (74%), naturalised grassland (73%), shrubs / bushes (69%), ‘wee forests’ / ‘tiny forests’ (66%), wetlands (62%) and bog gardens (56%) enhanced and expanded across East Lothian’s parks and greenspaces.

Cabinet member for Community Wellbeing, Cllr Colin McGinn, said: “We are very grateful to the individuals and groups who responded to the Nature Networks consultation which shows support for existing natural habitat areas as well as for more biodiversity within our parks and greenspaces. It’s extremely encouraging to know that people do want to see nature networks developed, extended and enhanced in suitable sites across East Lothian and practical work for this has already started.”

The Top 5 habitat types that respondents wanted to see more of across all of the East Lothian parks and greenspaces listed within the survey were:

  1. Pollinator friendly planting
  2. Naturalised longer grassland
  3. Meadows
  4. Hedgerows
  5. Tree planting

Capital funding has been used to purchase wildflower seed mixes and native trees for planting in parks and greenspaces across East Lothian’s communities. The funding provided for this project has enabled the council to produce signage which is being located on-site to inform the public about nature network enhancements underway in our parks and greenspaces.

Cllr McGinn added: “This is clearly a long-term project to enhance biodiversity in public areas in our communities and as planting and other practical activities are carried out I’m sure this will inspire others to contribute both ideas and encouragement to further develop local Nature Networks.”

The detailed report on the findings of the Nature Networks in East Lothian’s Parks and Greenspaces project can be found on the Council’s website here.

Published: Wednesday, 16th August 2023