On March 11th, less than 2 months after first confirming that a novel coronavirus had caused respiratory illness in a cluster of people in Wuhan, China, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Four days later Boris Johnson announced that "everyone" in the UK should now avoid "non-essential" travel and contact with others.
In the days that followed schools closed, pubs, restaurants and many shops were instructed to close and the government introduced greater restrictions, culminating in legislation to enforce the current stringent ‘lockdown’ measures. It is a situation the like of which few of us have ever experienced before.
And yet we are adapting to the new normal. Each of us has our own personal circumstances to deal with, and for some, the situation will be a great deal harder than for others. I’m in a very fortunate position of living on the edge of the city with a network of quiet paths and tracks on my doorstep. On my daily walks, I’m seeing Roe deer with such frequency that I’m now recognising individuals, something I could never say before. On this morning’s walk, I passed a robin, goldfinch, house sparrow and a dunnock all sharing a single small tree in a nearby front garden. If like me, you’re inspired to share what you’ve seen, you can now join the BTO Garden BirdWatch community for free!, or sign up for the RSPB Wild Challenge which includes a wide range of activities that can be done within current restrictions.
Current conditions have shown, more than ever, the value of getting outdoors and being connected with nature for our physical fitness and mental wellbeing. Across Edinburgh and beyond, a host of organisations whose business is nature and the outdoors are reimagining their role to support people in lockdown; see our new resource pages for some of the ideas and activities on offer. We’ll also be featuring some of the many creative ideas in the coming weeks’ blogs.
Stay safe and stay connected!
Andrew Bagnall, Outdoor Learning Development Officer (Schools & Communities).