Springwatch event in Norwich

EMMA LEE This Saturday Norwich hosts the Springwatch Festival, where as well as finding out about the nature on your doorstep, you can also make a pledge to do your bit for wildlife in your area.EMMA LEE finds out more.

EMMA LEE

Springwatch fever is sweeping the nation. Millions of us have been hooked by the BBC2 show which provides a fascinating insight into the lives of the creatures inhabiting our green spaces.

It's a show which has both the “ah” and the “ew” factor - it's survival of the fittest out there in our fields and forests after all.

Hosted by Bill Oddie and Kate Humble in Devon, and Simon King in the Hebrides, its live, late-night fly-on-the-wall edition has proved a more popular reality show with viewers than Big Brother.

Now there's a chance to get off your sofa, get involved and do your bit to encourage urban wildlife to thrive.

Norwich is one of just 15 cities around the country which has been chosen to host a Springwatch Festival.

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Aimed at bringing communities together and inspiring people to take a hands-on approach to helping the urban environment, visitors to Chapelfield Gardens tomorrow will be able to take part in activities such as using plastic bottles to make bird feeders, go on a guided tree walk and meet reptiles and birds of prey.

The event, which is suitable for all ages, marks the launch of the BBC Breathing Places Cities initiative, and at the Springwatch Festival people can sign up to 'Do One Thing' and take part in environmental projects happening throughout the next year in conjunction with Norwich City Council and conservation groups.

They can include anything from large-scale projects such as building a boardwalk to simply planting some wild flowers in your garden to attract butterflies and insects.

The festival has been co-ordinated by Norwich City Council community development officer Emma Bacon.

As she explains, the aim is to inspire people with practical and fun ideas that they can take back and use in their own garden, school or community.

“One small thing can make a big difference,” she says.

“It doesn't have to be on a big scale,” she adds. “Lots of small actions, when they're added together, can make a big difference - it can be a transformation. And coming along to the festival is a great opportunity to get involved in the year of action.”

One of the first tasks undertaken during the year of action will be to gather volunteers to help clear invasive plants from the River Wensum.

And, as Emma explains, the types of activities will vary according to the seasons - some of which will hopefully be enjoyed by future generations many years from now.

“In the autumn we'll be collecting acorns from the 400-year-old trees in Earlham Park and give people the chance to grow their own oak trees. Plant them in a pot, and a year later they'll be ready to be planted in the ground,” she says.

“It's about changing attitudes to open spaces. Norwich has got more open spaces than most cities - such as Mousehold Heath. We are really lucky. And if we can educate people to appreciate it, then they are more likely to look after it, which will benefit everyone.”

The Springwatch Festival is being held at Chapelfield Gardens this Saturday, June 16, from 10.30am-4.30pm. There will be storytelling sessions every half hour from 11.30am-3.30pm and the Norfolk Biodiversity Awards and BTCV Green Hero Award, which recognises the dedication of green crusaders, will be presented between 11.30pm and noon. BBC Radio Norfolk's Live Gardening Show will take place from noon to 2pm and the Fairyland Trust, which aims to get youngsters interested in the environment, will be giving fairy garden workshops on the hour between 11am and 3pm.

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