Exploring local wildlife - in Urdu, Arabic and Slovakian

Nicky Simpson/Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust

Several Wildlife Trusts have trialled new 'Wildlife Explorer' cards to help non-English speaking communities find out about the wildlife near them. Cheryl Burns explains

Access to natural spaces such as parks and nature reserves is unequally spread across our communities.  People who live in the most deprived communities are ten times less likely to live in green areas than those who live in the least deprived areas.

It’s a major problem for society that, even in 2019, people living in the UK have such inequal access to nature. It means many in society are cut off from natural resources that could help them tackle the challenges of everyday life, such as poor physical and mental health. Bringing people closer to nature is really important to us, so we’ve been trying some new ideas to help non-English speaking communities find out about the wildlife near them.

Wildlife Trusts in Birmingham, Sheffield, Rotherham and Gloucestershire have been helping local communities to learn about the nature around them using sets of ‘Wildlife Explorer’ cards in different languages. The cards feature 30 different species that can be found on city streets, in parks and gardens or nature reserves.  From robins and foxes to butterflies and oak trees, each of the cards feature an illustration and wildlife facts in English and an alternative language.  So far, we’ve created cards in Slovakian, Urdu and Arabic. 

A group of young people look at wildlife cards

Credit: Owen Hodgkinson/Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust

Words relating to nature are being lost from people’s vocabulary and many children are now unable to identify common plants and animals that feature in our everyday lives.  We hope that by helping people to learn words for the wildlife around them, they’ll not only benefit but be interested to learn more about what they can do to help wildlife flourish and thrive in their community.

Bringing people closer to nature is really important to us, so we’ve been trying some new ideas to help non-English speaking communities find out about the wildlife near them.

Last year, the cards were trialled by three Wildlife Trusts. Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust worked with the Roma community in Rotherham. Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust worked with Arabic speaking asylum seekers and refugees in their local area. The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country worked with settled Urdu speaking families living close to their nature reserves.  These Wildlife Trusts ran events such as nature walks and scavenger hunts with partner organisations as part of local community projects. They used the cards to help families spot wildlife and learn about what they are seeing.

A magpie and starling wildlife explorer cards

Credit: Owen Hodgkinson/Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust

We’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback from everyone who took part in the trials. Families said they enjoyed using the cards with 83% saying they would continue using them.  This is a great outcome, as the packs were given away as gifts for families to encourage them go wildlife finding on their own. 

We are looking forward to creating more wildlife cards in 2019, including more languages that will help us work with a wider range of communities.  It’s vital for the future of both people and wildlife that we enable people, whatever their background, to discover and build a connection with nature.