Snowdrops peeping through the leaf litter and catkins bobbing on the hazel bushes are such welcome sights – signs that the days are lengthening and spring is just around the corner. Even the birds seem happy that it will soon be warmer. So it seems hard to believe that the effect that climate change has pushing spring earlier can be anything but good.
But as Charlotte Hussey of Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust pointed out to Amanda Yorwerth on Environment Matters, all the plants and animals living around us are part of a finely tuned calendar that has evolved over thousands of years. The leaves open just in time for the caterpillars to feed one, just at the time the blue tit eggs hatch so the baby blue tits have plenty to eat. If one of these events is even a little out, then someone goes hungry and the effect on populations already under stress from habitat loss or other pressures can be catastrophic. Which is why HMWT is part of the Show the Love Climate Coalition asking for us to remember that climate change is a serious threat to so much that we love in the world, and to take those small steps that can make a real difference to preventing it.
Woodlands are particularly sensitive to the moving of the seasons caused by climate change, and to discover the extent of this the Woodland Trust are asking you to become a citizen scientist and take part in their Nature’s Calendar project, explained Hollie Anderson of the Woodland Trust. You submit your sightings of any of a number of seasonal indicators – first catkins, first frogspawn, first birdsong – in your little patch. It could be in your garden, in the road you pass on your way to work or in the woods you walk the dog through – anywhere you’ll see when that seasonal change as soon as it happens. Then simply log your findings on the Woodland Trust’s Nature’s Calendar . If you need a little help telling your hazel from your hawthorn, then there’s plenty of advice on the website too, so even kids can contribute. Not only will you be contributing to valuable records which will enable scientists to assess how nature is being affected by climate change but you’ll also be spending a few moments appreciating the natural world around you and giving yourself a mental health boost.