A network of habitats designed to support city wildlife is growing up across south west Glasgow with the help of new scheme involving Glasgow City Council and RSPB Scotland.

Glasgow’s Green Urban Connectors project will start by fostering over 50 open spaces between Darnley, Priesthill, Pollok and Crookston to provide local environments where pollinating insects, birds and small mammals can all thrive. The project also hopes to make walking routes more attractive and encourage more active travel.

Backed by a £111k award from the Scottish Government’s Biodiversity Challenge Fund, the Green Urban Connectors project will eventually create links between woodland, hedgerows and wildflower-rich grasslands across the whole city as part of the effort to strengthen Glasgow’s biodiversity.

By carefully managing local woodlands, hedgerows, river corridors, parks and other spaces, it is intended that these habitats can support a growing population of pollinating species such as bees, moths, butterflies and beetles. These species in turn attract birds and other wildlife. Work on the Green Urban Connectors project will include the local nature reserve, Dams to Darnley, but also Rosshall Park and areas along the White Cart Water.

Councillor Anna Richardson, City Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction,  sees the Green Urban Connector project as another step forward in the effort to protect Glasgow’s 6000 species of flora and fauna.

“The city’s declaration that we are facing an ecological emergency as well as a climate emergency is a recognition that we need to do everything we can to preserve the biodiversity that supports our way of life.  Across Glasgow there are countless spaces where biodiversity exists and can thrive if given some extra support.

“The Green Urban Connector project is about making the most of a network spaces in the south west of Glasgow for the benefit of the city’s biodiversity. We can carefully cultivate and manage these spaces in parks, next to water ways or by roads and paths to nurture the pollinators that are essential for the world we live in.

“Over the course of the pandemic we have seen how much people appreciate their outdoor environment. By supporting biodiversity in everyday spaces we also hope to enhance the experience people have when outdoors and bring them closer to the natural world.”

Surveys of locations have already taken place to understand what wildflowers, grasses and other plants have been trying to grow where grass is regularly cut back. This information will help to identify what bulbs and wildflower seed mixes should be planted in each location.

The aim is to create habitats for pollinators for as much of the year as possible and for those habitats to produce their own seeds that help with the spread of further wildflower meadow plots. Native species of hedgerows will also be planted on many of the wildlife corridors in the Pollok area as they crucial for supporting insects and birds.

RSPB see the Green Urban Connector project as part of their on-going work to bring people in Glasgow closer to the natural world. With training workshops also planned to help local communities monitor habitat improvements, RSPB sees the project as a way to support an array of wildlife.

RSPB’s Scotland Conservation Officer, Scott Shanks, said: “Wildflower-rich meadows, verges and flowering hedgerows will provide food for bees and butterflies, homes and safe nesting sites for hedgehogs and house sparrows, and a network of green corridors to enable wildlife such as grasshoppers, frogs and otters to move safely across the city.

“We look forward to wildlife recolonising wildlife-friendly parks, allotments and gardens across Glasgow.”

The Biodiversity Challenge Fund is managed by NatureScot with £6.4m allocated to a total of 12 different projects around Scotland, including Glasgow’s Green Urban Connector.

Nature Scot Chief Executive, Francesca Osowska, said: “During lockdowns people around the world have valued the direct physical and wellbeing benefits of nature. More than ever before, people are starting to understand fully and support powerful arguments to put nature at the heart of our emergence from this crisis. As we emerge from the COVID pandemic, investment in a ‘green recovery’ is understood to be the most cost-effective way of making our communities and our nature sustainable and more resilient, while driving inclusive economic development.

“This year new global targets to improve nature will be agreed at a Conference of the Parties in Kunming, China (COP15). Alongside COP26 on climate change in Glasgow, Scotland has a huge opportunity to address the many challenges and pressures that nature is facing. Nature is at the heart of what we do, and we will continue to deliver the transformational change needed to bring a nature-rich, sustainable and more economically secure future for Scotland.”

The council is currently implementing an extensive action plan intended to protect the city’s biodiversity and is also developing a set of measures in response to recommendations made by the city’s Ecological Emergency Working Group.

More info on the Biodiversity Challenge Fund is available here.