The Great Acceleration and the race for a new deal for nature

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 10.56.37The latest issue of the Green Alliance’s publication Inside Track, “The Great Acceleration: What should the UK do to protect natural systems” opened with a powerful infographic illustrating the link between human activity and the structure and functioning of the Earth System.  The Great Acceleration refers to the massive increase in nearly every sphere of human activity since 1950: population; transport (particularly international travel); resource use (with rural to urban migration driving consumption); communication and so on, from low or virtually non-existent bases.  Across the globe, natural ecosystems have been converted to human-dominated landscapes (1) as we pushing back nature and sublimate it to our wants.  The rate and scale of the change, is unprecedented, leading Professor Will Steffen to observe, “for the first time in human history, our own planetary life support system is being destabilised at a rapid rate and at a global scale.”

Each graph is startling, together the visual impact is even greater.  While there is the possibility of a legally-binding and universal climate agreement in Paris, the graphs remind us that carbon is one facet of a complex system.  Climate change is a massive, global challenge, but one that is simple to articulate: reduce aggregate emissions by switching to low carbon energy to limit global warming to two degrees.  For the natural environment locality matters: managing impacts on soil, water, air, nutrient cycles and biodiversity requires managing competing interests across sectors, and state boundaries.

Nature is the foundation of our production system, vital to our present well-being, and future prosperity.  Of the proposed 17 Sustainable Development Goals, more than half are directly linked to the conservation of natural resources.  Yet nature’s services are often missing from financial and economic analysis because they are delivered for free, and mistakenly assumed to have no value.  Ignoring these ‘externalities’ actually leads to outcomes that are less economically efficient, and short-sighted.

51MeUzEvTLL._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_Discussing, his latest book, “Natural Capital – Valuing the Planet”, Dieter Helm, chair of the Natural Capital Committee (the independent advisory body advising the Government on the sustainable use of England’s natural capital), referred to the Brundtland Commission‘s definition of sustainable development that,”seeks to meet the needs and aspirations of the present without compromising the ability to meet those of the future“, as an anchor for the concept of maintaining our aggregate natural capital assets.

974f41f0-2062-11e5-aa5a-398b2169cf79.imgOur balance sheet is not being maintained, the 2011 National Ecosystem Assessment found that over 30% of the services provided by our natural environment are in decline.  In the same week, I heard Helm speak, the shortlist for the Prix Pictet, the global award in photography and sustainability, and Douglas Coupland’s piece, Trashed” (pictured left) on beauty, toxicity, and the deadly contents of our cleaning cupboard provided visual reminders of the consequence of our actions.  Images of dystopia often provoke a woeful, “what can be done”?

Refreshingly, Helm offers an answer.  Helm divides the assets given to us by nature, into two categories: those that are renewable, provided for free, in perpetuity, if maintained above a certain threshold, such as fish stocks; and those that are effectively non-renewable, such as fossil fuels.  The categorisation prioritises efforts on renewables that are struggling to regenerate, in the face of overfishing, for example. If non-renewables are consumed, then the economic rents should be reinvested in a sovereign wealth fund to provide other forms of natural capital for future generations, and so maintain the aggregate. Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, established in 1996, has assets of around $900bn, owned by a population of 5.5 million. In contrast, future UK generations will receive little benefit from the one-off, windfall boon of North Sea Oil.

Compensation payments for damage, central to property rights elsewhere, to pay for restoration, or replacement would reveal the true cost of controversial developments.  The use of green taxes and removal of perverse subsidies to price externalities, to ensure the polluter pays will change the incentives industry works towards.  A carbon tax is readily understood, so why not an equivalent for nitrates or pesticides? With a £9bn contribution to economic output, of which £3bn is direct subsidy, and additional subsidies, such as fuel, Helm “struggles to think of how [fiscal support for agriculture] could be worse”.  Helm is not criticising farmers, but the perverse incentives they work towards.

The aggregate natural capital approach offers growth, and improved economic efficiency without straining the public purse.  Policy makers, politicians, and businesses are well-versed in the costs of environmental measures, however a natural capital fund from economic rents, compensation payments, green taxes and the removal of perverse subsidies would dwarf amounts currently spent on nature.  Amber Rudd, secretary of state for energy, writing in the Sunday Times (09.08.15), set out the government’s shale gas policy, alongside commitments to create a shale sovereign wealth fund and compensation payments for communities around shale developments. Will we see the framework rippling through to other areas of government policy, particularly when environmental investments involve costs and benefits across departmental boundaries?

The Natural Capital Committee’s presented a series of compelling environmental investments that offer strong economic returns.  Green spaces in cities, provide physical and mental health benefits that would reduce health treatment costs (estimated £2.1 billion) and improve labour productivity.  Similarly, the benefits of woodland planting are magnified when they are located near towns and cities.
Companies, responsible for much natural capital, are increasingly aware of the business risks from its degradation.  A report in the Financial Times noted, “Water scarcity is starting to hit the balance sheets of multinationals, who have spent more than $84bn managing their water usage in the last three years.” Businesses have a key role to play in integrated plans. NEF’s (New Economics Foundation) recent report, Blue New Dealexplores the symbiotic relationships between sustainable fisheries and tourism, “Acknowledging the multiple benefits of protecting and better managing the natural environment can help deliver conservation measures more effectively and build more cohesive communities”.   
Nature and economic development are not conflicting interests.  They may compete in a particular location but there are new, pragmatic approaches emerging that offer great opportunity, and better alternatives.  The detail is undoubtably challenging, but the vision is one where we collaborate as stewards for nature, acting in our own, enlightened, best-interests.  To quote Helm’s thoughts on the vex question of the development on the Green Belt, “imagine a Green belt with lots of natural capital, a much more environmentally benign agriculture, much greater public access, woodlands located next to people so it could fulfil not only the original purpose of limiting the sprawl but also provide the lungs of the cities, the fresh air for children to play in, and the recreational benefits which are crucial to health and well being.”
  1. MEA (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment) (2005Ecosystems and human well-being:synthesis (Island PressWashington, DC)
  2. Hibbard  K. A.Crutzen  P. J.Lambin  E. F.Liverman  D.Mantua  N. J.McNeill  J. R.Messerli  B.Steffen  W. (2006) in Integrated history and future of people on EarthDecadal interactions of humans and the environment, eds Costanza  R.Graumlich  L.Steffen  W. (MIT PressBoston, MA), pp 341375Dahlem Workshop Report 96.

Related links:

http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/aug/03/these-are-the-four-sdgs-we-need-to-agree-on-to-help-the-planet?CMP=new_1194&CMP=

http://www.green-alliance.org.uk/inside_track_35.php

http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1938/842#ref-61

http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/comment/regulars/guestcolumn/article1591147.ece

http://www.neweconomics.org/publications/entry/blue-new-deal

Advertisements

New Craftsmen celebrating the art of swilling

ls1

While working in Manchester, Lorna Singleton  yearned to return home to South Cumbria to do something practical, creative and to spend more time outdoors. WWoof-ing’ confirmed her desire to reconnect with the landscape of her childhood.  ‘WWOOF’ stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, and while on the farm, Lorna was introduced to greenwood crafts.  Today she is one of only a handful of remaining swillers in the country.

Lorna began an apprenticeship with the Bill Hogarth (MBE) Memorial Apprenticeship Trust for three years of intensive tuition in coppicing and greenwood crafts.  Bill Hogarth started working with wood in mid-1940s, aged 14, dressing and tying hazel for ships fenders.  As traditional markets for coppiced hazel dried up, Hogarth was the last coppice merchant in the Lake District by the 1980s.  He dedicated himself to sharing his skills, stories and knowledge of woodland management.  In 2000, a trust was set up to continue sharing knowledge of traditional coppice woodland management.

Coppicing, a traditional form of woodland management, is the practice of cutting young tree stems close to ground level.  New shoots emerge, and, after a few years the coppiced tree, or stool, is ready to be harvested, and the cycle begins again.  Opening the canopy and increasing light to the woodland floor allows plants to thrive, and as sections of woodland, or coups, are coppiced in rotation the practice creates a variety of habitats.

Lorna’s passion for weaving oak swills, traditional baskets unique to the Lakeland grew.  Willow, a more familiar basket material does not thrive in the bracing climate and rugged terrain of Cumbria, so the population had to work with the materials they had to hand, oak.  The oak is hand-coppiced when it is about twenty-five years, much later than other woods are coppiced, but early in the life of oak.

ls_4Lorna cleaves, or splits, the green wood, along its grain into strips.  The strips, or spells, are boiled overnight and soaked in water until they becomes supple (see right).  Splitting the wood along its grain, keepls_5s the fibres together retaining the strength of the tree.  Pieces of hazel are steamed over the boiling oak, and bent into the frame of the basket. Once softened, the cleft wood is riven into even thinner strips, around 2-3mm, before it is hand-woven into baskets. A single swill basket takes about a day to weave.  The strong, hard-wearing swill baskets were often used to collect potatoes and other crops, but their uses are not limited to the garden, making fine washing baskets, storage for root vegetables and carrots in a larder, logs, newspapers, or toys.
Through working with the coppiced wood, Lorna has become intimately familiar the material’s properties and limitations.  She describes how, in time, the craft becomes a familiar, almost meditative, ritual, with the tools feeling an extension of the hand, and the craftsman’s body moving unconsciously to make and mold the material.2014-09-17 17.41.02
I caught up with Lorna during the London Design Festival where she was maker-in-residence at the New Craftsmen gallery, surrounded by new pieces from a collaboration with Sebastian Cox.  The two met at a National Coppicing Federation workshop.  Sebastian’s experience of re-interpreting traditional crafts and products, and with a contemporary twist provided invaluable insights for Lorna as she grows her retail offering.  In turn, Lorna introduced Sebastian to the practice of swilling, and a collaboration was born.
 swill-lights-sebastian-cox-the-new-craftsmen-004-646x646
The resulting ‘Swill’ ceiling lights, made of oak swill skilfully woven into cylinders cast a cross-hatch light when illuminated.  The lights can be clustered into groups of three, five or seven, priced from £195 for the trio (9cm (w) x 9cm (d) x 12cm (h)).
The ‘Swill’ bench and stools pair silver grey swilled oak spells with a glue-less ash frame on fine, tapered legs for an elegant, strong seat.  The bench, £595, and the stool, £355 are both available from the New Craftsmen (pictured above in situ).  The seat of each bench or stool has a unique pattern reflecting the texture, colour and width of the individual spells.
swill-shelves-sebastian-cox-the-new-craftsmen-003-418x646The ‘Swill Hanging Shelves’ also combine ash and oak swill in a harmonious pair  (priced from £75 for a small shelf, 10cm (w) x 30cm (d) x 2cm (h)).  Lengths of swill are spilt, wrapped through an ash shelf and pinned with copper rivets. The shelves are exceptionally lightweight and strong and can be hung in tessellation or alone.  The shelves do equire a slight DIY intervention, as you have to soak the swill coil in water for 15 minutes, then hang the shelf on the rail with some books to weigh it down, to ensure the swill dries straight.  What better introduction to this timeless craft.
Image credits: New Craftsmen Gallery where not my own.

 

 

Fable & Base – fabrics celebrating their story

WoodlandEarlier this month, I met with Francesca Baur, founder of Fable & Base, to hear more about the story that sits behind Fable & Base, a new studio producing carefully sourced, hand-printed, stunning textiles.  I was won over by Francesca’s pitch at a recent RSA Engage event, where Fellows of the Royal Society of Arts have a chance to pitch their ideas and offer the chance to get involved.  A sort of gentle Dragon’s Den, though just as nerve-wracking on the podium. While trooping round various design  events during London Design Festival, I was often drawn to fresh, botanical prints, either a contemporary twist on florals or channelling a cool, contemporay Scandi look.  However, ask about the materials and inks and often the link with the environment is swiftly severed.  Fable & Base has its firmly roots in the Kent countryside, where Francesca is based.

The story begins with Francesca’s grandfather moving to London from Munich in 1930, where he had been an agent for Spitzenhaus (a lace house) Klauber.   Her grandfather set up a lingerie textile business in London’s Regent Street and Great Sutton Street, which he ran successfully until the late 70s when textile production began moving overseas.  The family then moved to Kent, with her father swapping his role as barrister for the good life, setting up an organic farm that pioneered an organic vegetable box scheme in the 1980s.  Francesca trained as a printed textile designer at Middlesex University. With over twenty years experience of designing and teaching, Francesca wanted to combine her love of textiles with the ethos of the “Slowfood Movement” that she grew up with.
Fable & Base is the culmination of these two passions.  Fable, as it is a story with a moral, and base as the base cloth or blank canvas to tell that story.  Our clothes and other textile products rarely share the story behind them: the toxins and pesticides in the production process and working conditions on the farm or in the factories are hidden from view.  With Fable & Base, Francesca’s “aim is to creative a narrative upon the cloth.  By telling the whole story of the fabric, right from its origins with the farmers and weavers, I hope to provide complete transparency from seed to finished product”.  Stories grow stronger when they are shared, and Fable & Base will share their story through workshops that engage the community.
Courgette Flower The brand was launched with two collections at this year’s Makegood Festival for culture, creativity & entrepreneurship.  The first collection, Edible Flowers, harks back to her childhood on the farm, and more recent inspiration from the fields around her Kent home.  The second collection, Fable, reflects Francesca’s love of clean, crisp Scandinavian inspired-design.  Francesca’s current favourite is Woodland from Fable collection (pictured above).  I love the bright, zesty Courgette Flowers from the Edible Flowers collection (pictured right).  Francesca will launch a new design each year to grow the collection.
The designs are screen-printed by hand using Soil Association approved water-based inks onto sustainable fabrics made of hemp, linen, and organic cotton.   For the moment, the organic cotton is sourced from India and Turkey, and the lighter weight hemp-organic cotton blend fabric is sourced from China.  Francesca is looking to organic linen from Belgium.  Francesca would also like to experiment with natural dyes, perhaps a theme for a collection next year.  You can buy the printed fabrics by the metre (£50-£75 depending on the fabric).  Products, such as cushions, soft-furnishings and fashion accessories are made to order to minimise waste.
81760d0c109b55bff8799f5dabae7d27_largeFable & Base is about to launch a campaign on Kickstarter, supported by the RSA, on 31st October.  Francesca aims to raise £7,500 for her micro-business to set up a workshop space and buy essential equipment to scale up her operations, print repeat lengths of fabric, grow the workshop programme and develop DIY kits.  You can pledge your support in exchange for a reward, whether a tea towel, fabric, or even a print party.  As the calls for greater supply chain transparency grow louder, here is wonderful example of how small can be beautiful, in every sense.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Kering Group, owner of Gucci, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and other luxury brands has placed sustainability at the heart of luxury, their business, and their reporting.  Just this week, Kering Group announced a five-year partnership with the Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF), at London College of Fashion (LCF), to support sustainable practices and innovation in the fashion industry.
You can next see Fable & Base at the Selvedge Winter Fair at Chelsea Old Town Hall, 31st October and 1st November 2014, so why not pop down and pick up a few Christmas gifts early.  Francesca’s fabrics and products are always available online at www.fableandbase.co.uk, and at select fairs.
Image credits: Fable & Base
Related links:

Tent London 2014 favourites

logoA pitstop at Nude Espresso on Hanbury Street set me buzzing for my favourite London Design Festival destination, Tent London.  The more established SuperBrands and international zones on the ground floor soon merge into the fresh, fun and less formal stands typically from younger or emerging designers.hyde  My first rendez vous was not with an exhibitor, but with potter and designer Isatu Hyde. I bought some of her medium-sized stoneware bowls, inspired by those from a monastery in Harrogate, at the New Designers show earlier in the year.  The bowls are in demand, so much so that Isatu asked to borrow mine for Design-Nation Presents at the Southbank Centre Terrace Shop.  Tickets are still available for the Meet the Maker evening on Tuesday 7th October, but you can see the work on show until 31st October. Unburdened, I was free to roam.  The understated elegance of Mater immediately caught my eye.  Founded in 2006, Mater (Latin for mother) is a high-end Danish furniture and lighting brand with a philosophy based on design, craftsmanship and ethicsTD1.  Contemporary design is combined with support for local craftsmen, their traditions and careful material selection.  A member of the UN Global Compact, and supporter of local sustainable business projects, Mater strive to minimize negative impacts, creating durable and desirable products that they home their customers will cherish. Pictured are the Luiz pendant lamp, made from natural FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) cork, suspended above the Bowl Table.  The table top is made mango wood, felled once the tree has reached the end of its productive life, and another planted.  The top is hand-turned on a lathe by craftsmen from the Kharadi community.  The top is finished with a lead-free, water-based polyurethane lacquer.  The hollow steel legs can be removed for more efficient packing and transport.  Mater products are stocked by Skandium in the UK. td3Exploring the story of the object, Second Sitters upholstery installation workshop was a chance to appreciate the skills, techniques and materials of upholstery up close, and hands-on as you could delve into boxes of horsehair, hessian and more.  Furniture Magpies revive furniture in a different way.td2  Literally deconstructing unloved pieces and reconfiguring them to more contemporary tastes while retaining their character and story.  The coffee table made of cross-sections of banister spindles was particularly striking. Upstairs were two of my favourite makers, both launching new collections. Galvin Brothers were presenting their new Cross Lap collection.  A clean and contemporary collection of tables, benches, consoles and stools in native steamed beech and American black walnut, and finished in water-based lacquers.tl5  Described as “modern rustic”, and in colours close to Carefully Curated’s own palette, how could I not be a fan?  Here is Matthew Galvin, just completing a piece to camera for Casafina’s round up of Tent London, which also features, Sebastian Cox. London Design Festival was a busy week for Sebastian Cox with the Wish List (and workshop) at the V&A, scorching and swilling pieces for the New Craftsmen, on Radio 4 with Sir Terence Conran, and the nominations for the Wood Awards, and Elle Decoration’s Best British Sustainable Designtl6 In the midst of this exciting flurry, Cox’s stand had an air of calm, matching the quiet serenity of the newly launched Underwood Collection, all made from hand-coppiced Kentish hazel and well-managed British ash.  The collection is called ‘Underwood’ as the pieces use coppiced hazel ‘in the round’, that is usually considered waste. In the foreground are pictured the ‘Hewn’ tea table (£195), bench (£300), and trestle (£170 each).  The Mop stick ladder (£210), shelves (£790) and Peg hooks (£55) are in the background.  A true celebration of British hardwoods. tl8Nearby, Daniel Heath launched his Art Deco collection.  The geometric motifs are etched onto reclaimed Welsh roof slates transforming the discarded into decorative interior surface materials.  The geometric shapes of Tracey Tubb’s wallpapers are inspired by origami.  Each sheet is hand-folded from a single roll of paper.  Tracey assures me the paper does not attract dust. The pattern’s on Seascape CuriositiesSealace wallpaper are by their nature more fluid.  Handtl9-drawn illustrations inspired by our beautiful underwater landscapes.  Using FSC approved and 100% recycled papers, Sara cuts intricate floating marine forms by hand creating three-dimensional wallpapers.  The works drew particular attention from Chinese, Japanese and Korean visitors, whose cultures have established traditions of paper-art forms. tl10Paper pulp from old newspapers is the fodder for Crea-Re’s ‘Copermicus’ lighting collection.  100% recycled, the paper mulch is mixed with ochre, or left grey, shaped, and left to dry.  The irregular, cracked shape with small holes or craters, means when the “Luna” light is turned on, the light creates a unique, mottled shadow. tl15While I missed the visual impact of the Material Council’s display of material cubes from 2013, this year, ‘Nooks, Niches and Cranniesʼ, featured Trash Glass from Diana Simpson, the first in a series of products developed using reclaimed waste as raw ingredients. tl12With my Welsh connections, I was delighted to catch up with Blodwen‘s founder Denise Lewis.  All Blodwen’s new blankets are woven at a 180 year old mill in the Teifi Valley, west Wales, not far from the National Woollen Museum.  The Heritage Blanket Collection (£345 each), inspired by a weaver’s pattern book datitl14ng from the 1700’s, are woven on the original 1930’s Dobcross looms.  The striking patterns caught the eye of recent fashion graduate, Sarah Hellen.  Inspired by the traditional skills of Welsh artisans, Hellen used some of Blodwen’s Heritage geometric ‘Hiraeth’ pattern for her menswear collection.  From baskets to traditional Welsh clogs, Blodwen is committed to the preserving and reviving the rural crafts and skills of Wales. A last word on some accessories.  The beautiful A-Z of edible flowers, A Matter of Taste, from Charlotte Day, which pique interest in some overlooked varieties and remind us of nature’s beauty tl16and bounty. I shall have to invest in one of Mary Goodman‘s Seating Spheres, a large wool covered exercise ball, described as a “sculptural addition to contemporary interiors” for use as a footrest, or seat.  I have used an exercise ball as my office chair for years.  The subtle instability stops any slump at the computer, and rolling around helps keep the blood flowing.  All the yarns are ethically sourced, with hard-wearing British wools such as Herdwick, Swalewick, Jacob and Axminster rug wool used for the spheres.  Mary Goodman will be showing her work as part of Campaign for Wool Interiors Collection at Southwark Cathedral, 5th -12th October. London Design Festival ended on a high note at Tent London!

Related link:

https://carefullycurated.co.uk/2013/08/20/welsh-blankets/

Celebrating and sustaining the beauty of our oceans

mission_blue_gif1_256_99_0_600“No ocean; no life. No ocean; no us” is the stark warning from Dr Sylvia Earle, 2009 TED prize winner, legendary oceanographer in the trailer to her new documentary, Mission Blue.  Earle has led more than 100 expeditions worldwide involving more than 7,000 hours underwater.  After decades at the forefront of ocean exploration, Earle is a passionate advocate for the world’s oceans.  Mission Blue is a rallying call to adapt our behaviour, and start to protect the oceans as we do land, with a goal of 20% protection by 2020.

A week after the release of Mission Blue on Netflix (on August 15th) a team of Southern Cross University biogeochemists published a research paper concluding that the rate of acidification in coral reef ecosystems is more than three times faster than in the open ocean”.  Ocean acidification, or the lowering of the ocean pH due to anthropogenic (caused by humans) inputs of carbon dioxide, is well documented. The change in chemistry significantly reduces the ability of corals, and other shell-forming organisms, to build their skeletons.  We have seen a 40% loss of corals around the globe in the last 30 years.  Coral reefs are incredibly diverse eco-systems, supporting many other species. and essential breeding grounds for viable fisheries.

SUSTAIN STUFF6For the roughly 500 million people worldwide who rely on coral reefs for food, tourism income and coastal protection, healthy coral reefs are a vital part of resource management.  Diving is a passion for Nell Bennett, recent RCA graduate, and SustainRCAFinalist.  While working as a conservation volunteer with blue ventures in Madagascar, she experienced at first hand the importance of community involvement in conservation initiatives.  Bennett designed t-shirts and comic strips to inspire and share messages about sustainable fishing practices, and alternative sources of income from aquaculture (farming sea-cucumbers).

nbennettMindful of this backdrop, Nell Bennett‘s final year project for her MA in Innovation Design Engineering at the Royal College of Art, Coral3, is a scheme to increase the pH of water passing through a coral reef using large alkaline structures placed upstream or within a reef.  These sacrificial structures, made of waste calcium carbonate and an organic binder, slowly dissolve, increasing the pH of the water.  The huge sculptural shapes could form a fantastical and unique underwater dive attraction for an eco-tourism project, bringing in revenue as well as restoration of a reef.

Designing the sculptures requires complex modelling of surface areas, densities, material properties, currents and water acidity to regulate the dissolution rate.  For example, you could design a form with a constant surface area, as it dissolved, or explore different densities of calcium carbonate within the composite.  Bennett talked with D-Shape, a pioneering robotic building system similar to a mega-scale 3D-printer.  D-Shape can print any feature that can fit within a 6metre cube.  They used 3D CAD software to design giant sculptural forms that would provide constant dissolution rates in water.

D-Shape’s technology works similarly to a large scape 3D printer.  Working from the structure’s foundation binder is strained onto a layer of sand (in this instance calcium carbonate).  The solidification process starts and a new layer is added, in 5-10mm layers with material that is not in contact with the binder buttressing the structure until it has solidified.  Once the solidified, any surplus material is released, and hey presto, the structure or sculpture is revealed.  My daughter’s glitter project ambitions could soon reach new dimensions!

As well as using binders, Bennett also explored the work of biomineralogist Damian Palin, a fellow RCA alumnus.  While at the RCA, Palin developed a casting process using bacteria as a low-energy catalyst to create artefacts.  More recently, Palin is developing a process that uses bacteria to biologically “mine” minerals from brine water that is residual to saltwater desalination.

Designing, constructing and delivering sculptures on a large scale would require infrastructure and funds from sponsoring partners.  The Coral3 framework, developed with guidance from the Bertarelli Foundation and blue ventures, describes a social enterprise to provide the host community with sustainable livelihoods.  The construction and delivery of sculptures on such a scale would require infrastructure and funds from sponsoring partners including local dive centres, resort hotels, a shipping company, and marine conservation charity.  The more modest sculptures exhibited at Bennett’s degree show were made by hacking a 3D printer, their delicate, ethereal forms reminiscent of the corals themselves.  These or even more simple, economical brick forms that could be replaced easily at regularly intervals may form the basis of a pilot project.

2014.8_Florida_nurseryBennett’s work may be included in a major exhibition at the Natural History MuseumCoral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea, opening in March 2015.  The exhibition promises stunning seascapes drawn from the Catlin Seaview Survey, which is sponsored by the exhibition partners, the Catlin Group, a global specialty property insurer and reinsurer.  The Catlin Seaview Survey is creating a baseline record of the world’s coral reefs, in high-resolution 360-degree panoramic vision.  The project started in September 2012, surveying the Great Barrier Reef.  In total 150km of 32 reefs along the entire length of the Great Barrier Reef and out into the Coral Sea were surveyed.  105,000, GPS located, panoramic images are being analysed by marine scientists around the world, and can be viewed on the free, publicly accessible online database, the Catlin Global Reef Record.  Everyone from reef managers to international decision makers will be able to see the current state of reef ecosystems, and monitor changes over time at the local, regional or global level.  It gives an unprecedented and common view of the health of these fragile ecosystems, a vital aid to management.

The sheer wonder I felt the first time I saw a healthy reef in the Red Sea was captivating.  The beautiful technicolor images are fresh in my mind more than twenty years later, I only hope the reef is still as brilliantly pristine today.  Soon, I will be able to check, revisiting the reef, virtually this time, thanks to the Catlin Seaview Survey!  A joy of digital and location-based technology that reveals the beauty of our oceans, and provides essential data to conserve and protect their vital eco-systems.

Coral3 has been selected as a SustainRCA Show and Award 2014 finalist, and will be on display at the RCA from 18th September – 3rd October 2014.

Image credits: Catlin Seaview Survey; Mission Blue; Nell Bennett/Sustain

Related links:

http://ideas.ted.com/2014/08/15/4-gifs-that-show-what-happened-to-the-oceans/

https://carefullycurated.co.uk/2014/07/23/sustainrca-show-and-award-2014-finalists/

 

 

More Carefully Curated @Clerkenwell Design Week

IMG_3480There was so much to see at Clerkenwell Design Week, I could not see it all, but here are a few more favourite finds.

Firstly, a step into Forbo Flooring Systems who make linoleum, project vinyl, carpet tiles, and flocked flooring for commercial and residential customers.  With a clutch of environmental awards to their name, including BREAM, Cradle-to-Crade and Nordic Swan, theInfographic_April_2014y are proud of their commitment to responsible raw material procurement and manufacturing processes.  Forbo use Life Cycle Assessment to evaluate their products’ environmental footprint, before, during and after production.  The info graphic, Creating Better Environments shares some of the highlights.  For example, marmoleum (linoleum) is made from 97% natural materials with natural antibacterial properties, contains 43% recycled content, has total VOC 30 lower than the norm and CO2 emissions 50% than other resilient floorings.  It could soon be on the floor of the family bathroom! 

Instyle Textile WallI had to stop at Brands ,a few doors down, to hear about the “holistically reared sheep” (as pitched in the Icon Guide to CDW) whose wool is used for the LIFE textile range from Instyle.  LIFE textiles were developed along  Cradle to Cradle principles, made from 100% low-pesticide wool that is processed with biodegradable detergents, and heavy-metal free dyes.  Wool has many virtues, and this cloth, suitable for upholstery or screen use, is also recyclable through Instyle’s Revive programme.  Instyle Green Feel Bags LondonTo show the colours and weave to their best effect, the fabrics have been made into covetable backpacks by Cherchbi, a British leather goods company that prides itself on using the best natural raw materials such as vegetable-tanned English saddle leather and discarded wool from the ancient Herdwick breed.  The bags are a playful way to show the beauty and versatility of the LIFE Textiles and Cherchbi craftsmanship.

IMG_3479I had a quick perch on a (very comfortable) bed at Ensemblier London to hear from founder Emma Storey about the craftsmanship invested in their customisable headboards.  With designs inspired by the rich archives of the Victoria & Albert Museum, the headboards are handmade in small workshops in England using traditional skills and sustainable materials.

photoCraftsmanship and traditional skills were also in evidence elsewhere.  The beautiful copper and terracotta objects (pictured at the top)from Hend Krichen are the fusion of a London-based design practice and a network of craftsmen in Tunisia revealing the country’s natural resources and artisanal heritage.  The perfect complement to the kitchen I am coveting after seeing this bar (pictured right) at the Benchmark Furniture stand.

IMG_3495 IMG_3497I caught my breath with a perch on Neb Abbott‘s Geffrye stool.  The stackable stool is based on a commission for eight benches as temporary seating for the Geffrye Museum cafe. Neb is about to graduate from the CASS School of Art, Architecture and Design.  Alongside the stool stood the Wasp series of chairs.  The playful exploration with materials (my favourite is the webbing) belies the serious design consideration to providing lumber support.  It is seriously comfy!

allo_high1Studio 23, founded by Naori Priestly, a Royal College of Art graduate, works with the Allo Club in Sankhuwasabha, a small mountain village in eastern Nepal, to produce handmade fabrics from the Himalayan Giant Nettle (known as Allo). Allo grows naturally in forests above 1500 metres, helping to stabilise the fragile soil in mountainous areas.  Local peoples harvest allo, as they have done for generations, boiling and beating the stem bark and then spinning the fibres and weaving them into sacks, bags, jackets or fishing nets.  As a social enterprise, Studio23 aims to preserve the community’s skills, the landscape and provide another source of revenue.  The natural fabric is strong and durable.  It would look great as chair seat, or cushion, particularly the subtle herringbone weave. IMG_3481 Or cover a sofa, add a few hand-knitted cushions from Rose Sharp Jones (pictured left), and then relax…..

 

Photocredit: Brands Ltd; Forbo Flooring Systems for the info graphic; Studio23 and the rest are mine.

Related post: Design Factory @Clerkenewell Design Week

 

5 of the best stools

Are you sitting comfortably?  Or may be you are on the hunt for a new three-legged seating friend?  Here is my pick of five of the best stools! Pippy_Oak_Stool_-_Galvin_Brothers_1_grandeIn celebration of the Galvin Brothers recent opening of their bricks and mortar store in Beverley, Yorkshire (11 Flemingate,  HU17 0NP), my first pick is their signature stool, the English Pippy Oak Milk stool (£170).  Pippy Oak, or Cat’s Paw Oak, is so named because of its characteristic pips or knots.  The open, light nature of English woodlands, hedgerows and parks encourages ‘epicormic growth’, the shoots or buds, on tree trunks and at their base. These tumour-like growths penetrate deep into the tree’s heart wood.  The grain moves around the knots to create beautiful patterns, revealed as ‘cat’s paws’ on the board  The stool is handmade, with peg-and-wedge leg joints.  Its clean, modern form is given distinct character by the unique pattern of the Pippy Oak.  A rustic gent with potential as a stool, side or occasional bedside table.  The stools are finished in Danish oil and the dimensions are 300 x 460 x 300mm. b9f91c7a-8a28-4556-b68b-435a22240c2e

The second stool makes good use of the things that are found as by-products, or off cuts of industrial production processes.  The top of Tom Dixon‘s Offcut Stool is made from the waney edge, edge that follows the natural curve of the tree (as in waning moon).  This irregular edge is often discarded, hence the name ‘Offcut’ stool.  Made of solid oak and finished with a natural soaped finish, the stool comes flat-packed (with efficiencies of packaging and distribution) and is easily assembled using wooden pegs rather than screws or glue.  Simple and honest.  Available from Tom Dixon or Heal’s from £140.

justwoodtableThe third entry, Pippa Murray’s Just Wood stool also makes use of the neglected, in this case our unmanaged British woodlands.  The legs of the stool are greenwood shavings that have been moulded using a process developed by Pippa as part of her final year research project studying Design Products at the Royal College of Art.  Greenwood shavings are a by-product of coppicing hardwood trees, a traditional form of woodland management.  The moulded material is strong, polymer free and bio degradable.

Dipped-Vintage-Lab-Stool-448x448Dipped vintage lab stools from Ines Cole (£125, H 61 x W 34 x D 38 cm) have been taken back to their natural wood and then given a dip dye makeover sealed with a matt finish.  A simple piece of upcycling that conjures up nostalgic images of my old school science lab, and perfect for the industrial vintage look.  If you fancy a more colourful alternative, you can find similar stools at reclamation yards or antiques fairs and try a DIY dip.

Three-StoolsIf not DIY, then what about grow your own?  Typically there is 50-80% wastage in normal process of transforming raw timber to finished products.  The Well Proven stool by Marjan van Aubel and James Shaw makes use of shavings, sawdust and chippings.  When combined the mixture of bio-resin and waste shavings create a chemical reaction that expands into a foamed structure five times its original volume.  The porridge like mixture can be coloured with dyes and moulded.  It hardens to form a strong, lightweight material, reinforced by the fibres in the hardwood shavings.  The ‘porridge’ is spread over the underside of a chair and shaped by hand around the contrastingly elegant turned legs of American ash.  The fore-runner of the stool, the Well-Proven Chair was nominated for the Design of the Year 2013 Award an developed with the support of the American Hardwood Export Council.  The stools were on display as part of Heal’s Modern Craft Market in February 2014.

 

Image credits: Galvin Bros, Ines Cole, James Shaw, Pippa Murray Design, Tom Dixon Studio,

 

And the birds

parkMy window looks out over a park, and as the view becomes steadily more verdant, so the birds find fuller voice. I am far from an ornithologist, but as I ran around the park this morning, I saw a robin, blue tit, thrush, goldfinch, blackbird, magpie, a couple of alien parakeets and the ubiquitous pigeon.  The bird song is simply uplifting, a spring chorus for us all to savour.  It is nesting season, as March to August is the main breeding season for nesting birds, so no wonder they are in full voice.

With the knowledge that the Lawton review of England’s Wildlife Sites and Ecological Network, published by DEFRA in 2010, noted declines of more than 80% of farmland birds since the 1960s, including tree sparrows, corn buntings and turtle doves, I turned my attention to what I can do in my patch.  Over the last 20 years we have lost half to three-quarters of insect-eating birds.  Some of this is due to loss of their homes.  Lots of hedgerows have disappeared from farmland, and fences and walls are the norm in cities.

Growing a hedge with native and trees and shrubs provides food, shelter and somewhere to nest all in one.  At this time of year, the RSPB recommend that you avoid cutting hedges and trees.  It is actually an offence under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 to intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use, or being built.  The RSPB website has free guides to growing a hedge and making it a home for birds.

In the last 12 years, 53% of swifts have disappeared from the South East of England, according to Swift Conservation.  Swifts, with their long, scythe-like wings and a short, forked tail, form a familiar silhouette in our summer skies when they arrive to breed.    As they nest under eaves and gables, renovations and new buildings have disturbed many of their nesting sites, particularly as swifts often nest in the same holes and crevices for years.  Swifts are easily disturbed, so try to avoid doing any roof repairs or other work during the nesting season from May to August.

The best place to install a swift box is under the eaves of your roof, or a similar overhang, as this will provide some protection from the weather, in a shaded area. It should be at least 5 metres off the ground and away from climbers or nearby trees, so it is less accessible to predators such as crows, magpies, squirrels and cats.  Once installed, you do not need to clean out the boxes.  Swift Conservation have a number of D.I.Y. designs for swift boxes and information on swift bricks and NHBS sell a large range of bird boxes suitable for swifts and other birds.
bbA Bird Brick House is a permanent home for swifts, sparrows, and many other small to medium sized UK birds.  The box can be included as a new build, or retro-fited without cutting bricks.  The boxes are suitable for render, brick work or weather-boarding, for residential and commercial buildings.  The back box is made from 100% recycled plastic and the removable front with a fascia of real brick can blend the surrounding wall.  Bird Brick House make a range of boxes to suit the nesting habits of a variety of birds and bats.  Prices start from £70 +VAT.

If space is not such premium and you could make your own sparrows nest box to attach to a wall or tree.  The RSPB offers a free DIY guide to building a nest for house sparrows that takes about 3-4 hours.  If you do not have a tree, you substitute with a “Branch” bird feeder handmade in Cornwall from solid English Ash from Green and Blue,  priced at £35.

BLOGr&rLN25AOr follow this fun and thifty suggestion from LoveBessie to reuse a milk or soup carton as a home for our feathered friends, reproduced here by kind permission.  The reduce and recycle projects are on the backs of cards from LoveBessie’s Lolita Nolita collection.  ‘No lita’, get it? The playful designs share Love-ly messages. Simply wash out your old carton thoroughly; draw a window on each of the sides 60mm up from the base; cut out the windows; punch a hole in the top to loop the string and tie with a secure knot; fill the base with birdseed; and voila enjoy the spectacle.

For those not so confident of their DIY skills, I love the colours of this bird house (pictured below) from Traidcraft, that has been woven from rope made from twisted, recycled, misprinted sweet wrappers (priced at £10).31086

Bird food is widely available from supermarkets, garden centres, and of course the RSPB (all profits support their work).  Many household scraps are also a suitable and inexpensive way of feeding birds, but while suet, dried fruits and rice are popular, there are a few don’ts, such as milk or fat from cooked meat. The RSPB provides a comprehensive round up of what to feed, to whom, how and when!

So if you have a few spare moments this long Easter weekend, create a home for some real eggs to hatch.

Photo credits: LoveBessie, Traidcraft

Defending the rights of nature

RIGHTS-OF-NATURE_web_LOW-06_905 ‘The Rights of Nature and the Nature of Value’ was the last SustainRCA event of the season.  The speakers, chaired by Paul De Zylva from Friends of the Earth, framed a vital debate exploring the complexities of how and why we value and protect the natural environment.  The IPCC has just published its latest report, Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability” asserting that  “Increasing magnitudes of warming increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts”. Climate change, in conjunction with changing habitats, over-exploitation, pollution and invasive species mean that a significant proportion of land and freshwater species “faces increased extinction risk under projected climate change during and beyond the 21st century.”   As for our marine species, climate change and loss of biodiversity will “challenge the sustained provision of fisheries productivity and other ecosystem services”   As the warnings become ever more stark, the debate becomes even more critical.

justwoodtablePippa Murray, designer and maker, was the first of four speakers at the SustainRCA event.  Pippa presented ‘Just Wood’ her final year project for her MA Design Products at the RCA.  For nine months Pippa was based in a 45 acre Cumbrian woodland, consisting mainly of British hardwoods, as an apprentice at Danny Frost Timber.  Pippa developed an adhesive free method for moulding greenwood shavings in an affordable batch process.  The greenwood shavings are a by-product of pruning the hardwood trees.  Pruning, or coppicing, is a traditional form of woodland management.  In contrast to mono crop woods that are clear-felled in twenty year cycles, hardwood trees play many different roles in their lifetime.  Writing about Britain’s ancient woodlands recently in the Financial Times, Matthew Wilson, managing director of Clifton Nurseries, noted that a single mature oak can host up to 25,000 individual animals.  Pippa hopes her process offers the potential to make good use of the 649,000 hectares of unmanaged woodland in England today. While pruning and reshaping the trees, Pippa was mindful that the impact of her actions will be revealed in 100 or 200 years time.  On a greater scale, Pippa’s reflections remind us that our interactions with nature have repercussions far beyond our own lifetime.  In closing, Pippa asked, “What is our generation leaving for the future?” 

Hopefully not the sound of the chainsaw that filled the theatre as Andrew Simms (author, nef Fellow, Global Witness) played a short cartoon highlighting financial ties between Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor and climate champion, and tropical forestry companies, a number of whom were implicated in illegal logging.  It is a lighthearted look at a serious issue, not Schwarznegger’s reputation, but the impact of industrial logging, and the role of investment vehicles as intermediaries.  There has been much written about valuing nature’s resources and services, but this presents a paradox, Andrew reminds.  While something is invisible to the system unless it has a price, if you do price it, then it becomes vulnerable to the vagaries of short-term markets.  Nature becomes commoditized and its value reduced to its monetary price.  Yet, Andrew went on, orthodox pricing models fail as you can not put a price on civilisation.  What price for that last barrel of oil?  If monetary values are reductive, even to a Western model, then what alternatives are available for decision-making?

TJ Demos, UCL, while calling for full natural capital accounting as a means to end unsustainable resource exploitation, swiftly challenged us to look at the politics of ecology.  TJ presented works from a number of artists exploring the growing conflicts around ecology and climate change.  Red Ant Dream, directed by Sanjay Kak, and The Sovereign Forest, by Amar Kanwar, look at the impact of mining on the landscape and communities of Odisha (formerly Orissa), India.  Here the artists are protagonists and inquisitors challenging our socio-economic and political culture and its concept of value.

nef first published the Happy Planet Index in 2006.  The HPI measures which countries offer long, happy, sustainable lives for their people.  Small and island states perform best (the UK is ranked 41 out of 151 states).  While economic growth and development is often viewed in a vacuum, devoid of social, cultural, ecological or spiritual values, for many communities nature is central to their heritage.   Earth Law recognises that the Earth is the source of laws which govern life, something that many indigenous peoples and local communities have been practicing for centuries.  Earth law, earth jurisprudence, or wild law recognises the rights of nature , its right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles.  In 2008, Ecuador became the first country to adopt Rights of Nature in its constitution.  This changes nature from an asset (that you can put a price on and offset) to an entity than can assume agency in a legal situation.

poster-imagine-no-qr-660-wide

Recognising the rights of nature changes our understanding of nature and the purpose of law and governance, from property-owner to trustee.  In this context, it is much harder to put a price on significant harm, as the final speaker, Polly Higgins,  environmental lawyer and author of Eradicating Ecocideargued so eloquently.  As Polly noted, we do not ask what price to put on child abuse, domestic violence or theft.  They are simply crimes.  Ecocide is, “the extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been or will be severely diminished.”  It is not a radical, dark green manifesto, it was included in the UN’s draft Code of Crimes Against the Peace and Security of Mankind and examined for 11 years as the fifth Crime Against Peace in the Rome Statute before being mysteriously shelved at the last minute in 1996.  Wish20 – Eradicating Ecocide is the global citizens campaign to create a global duty of care and end Ecocide by 2020.

A more holistic approach towards nature, environmental ethics and governance, is one of stewardship, where nature is not an asset to own, where the value of something is greater and more complex than its present monetary price tag.  In the context of SustainRCA, artists, designers and makers have a powerful role to play in envisioning a better world, challenging the status quo, and mediating a more sustainable social, cultural, environmental and economic compact.  Andrew ended with John Ruskin’s quote, “There is no wealth but life”, I shall add, Ai Weiwei, “Your own acts tell the world who you are and what kind of society you think it should be.”

Image credit: Eradicating Ecocide, Pippa Murray, SustainRCA

Sowing the seeds of biodiversity

bbka_album_12_1364148653_thumbSpring is in the air, and the birds and the bees are a buzzing.  But the cacophony is more subdued than it once was.

We have known for sometime that our ecosystems, globally, nationally and in many cases locally are in decline.   The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, concluded “over the past 50 years humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and more extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history, largely to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber and fuel.  This has resulted in a substantial and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on Earth.”  Our own UK National Ecosystem Assessment, published in 2011, found that about 30% of our ecosystems services have been assessed as currently declining, with many others in a degraded state.

All of this matters, as we rely on these ecosystem services for our survival.  Provisioning services of food and fuel can be easily understood, and valued.  Others are less tangible: regulation services such as trees providing local cooling and carbon capture (yes a shady tree); or the non-material benefits we derive from cultural services (put simply, enjoying a walk on the beach); and  supporting services, such as soil formation and  nutrient recycling (or composting).  Biodiversity underpins all of these services, and the greater the biodiversity, generally the more resilient the systems are.  The Lawton review, Making Space for Nature, (2010) concluded unequivocally that England’s wildlife sites are too small and too fragmented to provide a coherent and resilient ecological network.

bbka_album_12_1393322838_thumbAs for bees, over the last 20 years there has been a 50% decline in honey bee colonies, while at the same time, the areas of crops dependent on insect pollinators grew 38%.  84% of European crops rely on insect pollinators, and pollination is worth £440mn per year to UK agriculture (The Natural Choice: Securing the Value of Nature, DEFRA, 2011).  So it is worth our while in every sense to act.

What is more, as 80% of our population live in urban areas, the green in our cities matters, but over the period, 1999-2008, London alone lost, on average, 500 gardens each year (London: Garden City? ,2010, London Wildlife Trust).  Some of the loss was due to development, but changes in garden design and management are also responsible, with a a 26% increase in hardstanding over the same period.

OlympicParkImage1-1A wide range of evidence suggests that contact with green spaces improves our well-being, so incorporating green infrastructure into urban design reaps wide social benefits.  Speaking at Ecobuild, Blanche Cameron, Founding Director of RESET, reminded us “Nature in cities is something we can all do – and is everyone’s job to do” as cities provide great opportunities to support biodiversity by integrating nature into our habitat.  Given the shortage of ground, choosing living roofs and walls, rain gardens, tree pits, or even a window box, are a great way to provide some green infrastructure to punctuate the grey.

As Toby James from Wildflower Turf, suppliers to London 2012 (pictured left), noted at Ecobuild, green roofs help filter air and water pollution, provide opportunities for rainwater capture and harvesting,  and reduce energy demand by providing insulation, creating better public and private spaces where we can all thrive.  They are also low maintenance, needing a trim only once a year in the autumn, and watering only in case of drought.The wildflowers also provide essential fodder for pollinators.

IMG_2009So what can you do to make space for pollinators, in gardens and on roofs?  The London Wildlife Trust‘s Garden for a Living London campaign has come up with six gardening actions to turn your backyard into a mini nature reserve.  They have ‘how to guides’ for each available for free download, from planting a mixed hedgerow to ‘wild up’ your decking.  RESET run one day masterclasses on DIY small scale green roof construction, or suppliers such as Wildflower Turf can provide installers’ details.  A video on Wildflower Turf UK’s website shows how quickly the wildflower turf can be established.

As Jane Moseley of the British Beekeepers Association says, “We don’t all have to be beekeepers, but we can all be keepers of bees”.  In London, for example, there are plenty of bees, but not enough for them to eat.  Just mowing the grass less often so that clover, dandelions and other pollinator fodder can flourish, would help, and how lovely to be implored to be lazy for a change!  BBKA provide a range of resources and advice on how to help bees and beekeepers.  Here are their top 10 ways to help the Honey Bee:

1. Adopt a beehive

seeds12. Make a bee-friendly habitat.  Plants they like include sunflowers, larkspurs, and foxgloves.  Vegetables like peas and beans, and the flowering herbs, such as mint and rosemary are also popular, along with most native wildflowers.

Perfect-for-Pollinators_RHS_P4P_LOGO_LWLook out for the RHS Perfect for Pollinators symbol at your local garden centre, or ask for advice, as now is a great time to sow your (wildflower) seeds.  I am not sure we followed all the instructions on preparation, but  Thompson & Morgan, and Sutton Seeds both stock pollinator-friendly mixes.  Packets of wildflower seed mixes make a great party bag filler and thoughtful alternative for wedding favours. Or sign up for your Bee Cause, bee saver kit from Friends of the Earth.

t440_7ace90caf718423162690a916f788d22Provide bees in your garden with a home.  Wildlife World have a whole range of options, from a simple bee log  (pictured right), via the functional Kinsman bee nester (made from rice husk and bamboo  and priced £18.99) to the palatial Highgrove Solitary Bee House, which is inspired by the design of classical temples in the Highgrove gardens, there is an option to suit all tastes!

3.  Encourage your local authority to cultivate bee-friendly, wildflower spaces. Local authorities manage a huge amount of space, so a policy change can have a real impact.  Eastbourne Borough Council has formally backed the Bee Cause and planting in all their parks and gardens now aims to be pollinator-friendly.

bbka_album_52_1375983647_thumb4.  Consider letting  a local beekeeper use your spare space. Your garden will get a boost from good pollination, and you might get some honey too!  Contact your local beekeeping association to find out more.

5.  If you spot a swarm, report it to the police or a local authority.

6. Do not keep unwashed honey jars outside as overseas honey can contain spores and bacteria very harmful to honey bees.

7. Contact your MP to urge their support for research into the decline of honey bees.

8. Invite a beekeeper to your local school or club.  Bees have been on Earth for around 30 million years, and cultivated for around 5,000 years.  Quite a history!

9.  Buy locally-produced honey.  It will taste different to foreign supermarket honey, and the flavour will reflect your local flora.  It is also a boost to pollinating local crops.

10.  If it sparks your interest, try a beekeeper for the day taster course, or become a beekeeper’s buddy and see if you are keen to take on a hive!

Simply let some native colour back in!

2012_london_olympic_park_wildflower_meadow

Photo credit:  British Beekeepers Association, Gardenvisit.com, Wildflower Turf UK, Wildlife World