Manna interview: Making a difference

2nd February 2024

What is Wilder Churches?

It is a partnership initiative between Somerset Wildlife Trust and the Diocese of Bath and Wells to provide a series of training sessions aimed at anyone interested in taking action for nature in their local churchyard, burial ground or other church land. We want to help people understand how important these spaces can be.

What has the reaction been to it?

We started with a launch session in 2021 and had an amazing reaction to that. People have continued to take part or have been able to catch up because we recorded all the training and we also run regular sessions for new communities. What’s been very rewarding is that people have been finding habitats they never knew were there.

Is that the reaction you expected?

We were absolutely delighted with the response. We provided support so that they have access to advice, with the wider benefit of not just doing something in their local churchyard but doing it as part of something that's happening across the whole diocese.

What has been the most suprising thing you have found out in running Wilder Churches?

The Somerset Botany Group approached us and asked if they could offer surveys for communities, which was great. They got round a lot of sites and found some amazing things, which was absolutely fantastic and just shows why these places are so special.

Is it a lot for a church to do?

No. You can start small. Even churches that don't have grassy areas can have flowerpots planted with bee friendly plants. It's important enthusiasm doesn't cause people to rush in and change things without having time to understand the space and the communities. We support any action the community decides to take and help them find what will work best and how to do that.

Any advice for someone looking to take part?

Always talk to your church leader and those already involved. Ask who currently manages that space and who currently decides how it is managed.

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