Today is Earth Day, when people around the world celebrate our natural environment and demonstrate their support for protecting it. A lot has happened since Earth Day in 2016, when the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change was signed. In the last month alone, many of us have found that our appreciation for our local green spaces has grown significantly, and according to one recent opinion poll, over a quarter of us have noticed more wildlife.
Like many of you, I’ve been using my government-recommended daily exercise to walk, run or cycle outdoors and enjoy our local green spaces during the lockdown. Some of us may have found new parks or fields near our homes that we have never been to before, and others may have visited a favourite nature reserve and encountered new species of plant or wildlife. These green spaces are so important, as they provide us with many mental and physical health benefits. Alongside the fresh air and exercise, spending time in nature has been shown to improve your mood and reduce stress.
So this Earth Day, I’m celebrating nature in Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner and our local green spaces. We should continue to protect and enhance these places which we have come to value even more in these difficult times. For those of us who aren’t lucky enough to live in rural areas, or to have their own gardens, parks and green spaces can provide a much-needed dose of ‘vitamin N’. We should also aim to maximise the value of these spaces for wildlife too, for example, by avoiding over-cutting them and by planting a variety of pollinator-friendly flower species for bees to enjoy.
I also want to celebrate the many community groups who look after these spaces, like Friends of Eastcote House Gardens, Friends of Roxbourne Park, Friends of Pinner Village Gardens, Friends of Pinn Meadows, Ruislip Woods Management Advisory Committee. Many of these groups are struggling financially at the moment due to challenges fundraising or the closure of on-site cafes. We owe a lot to these tireless volunteers, and I will work with local authorities and the Government to ensure they have the support they need to keep our precious local parks and nature sites open for us all to enjoy.