COMMUNITIES are coming together to grow a nature network across the country.

In the Highlands at least 60 new small meadow sites have been created by volunteers and schools, while wildflower patches are springing up around the country after an appeal by RSPB Scotland.

It is part of the push to reverse biodiversity loss and bolster resistance to climate change.

In Scotland, wildflower meadows have declined by 97% since the 1930s and there has been a 24% decline in the average abundance of recorded species since 1994 alone. Many familiar bird species are in decline, according to the RSBP, and since 1980 the number of pollinating insects in Scotland have declined by over half (51%).

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Yet a study by Sussex University found that even a very small patch of land can become a really important lifeline for pollinators.

“If you are living in one of these new estates that have sprung up where there used to be a field with loads of birds nesting, even a very small patch can make a massive difference as it can be a stepping stone for a nature corridor,” said High Life Highland Rangers Imogen Furlong, who views her own garden as a mini nature reserve.

The National: Even a small batch of land can help pollinatorsEven a small batch of land can help pollinators (Image: NQ)

“A monochrome of neat lawns and not a flower in sight are deserts for biodiversity. Even if you do the smallest amount, nature just comes to it – it’s incredible. It’s good for your mental health too.”

Across the Highlands, communities are now reaping the benefits of taking part in a project, run by the High Life Highland Countryside Rangers. The scheme is being funded by Highland Council through the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund, a capital fund designed to help support projects that will deliver nature restoration, safeguard wildlife, and tackle the causes of biodiversity loss due to climate change.

From Wick to the west coast, wildflowers are now blooming and helping to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.

“There has been a lot of enthusiasm from all demographics, from children all the way through to retired people,” said Furlong. “We have had good community engagement and have been trying a wide variety of places from coastal to urban – areas that have been closely managed in the past which does not allow for much pollination activity.”

She said results should be even better next year.

“One of the aspects of establishing wildflower patches is there has to be some patience. We had a really dry June and that set back some of the patches from truly establishing,” said Furlong.

For those who would like to try growing wildflowers, now is a good time to start using seeds gathered locally from wildflowers or from a Scottish wildflower pack.

“You can go out and buy these ‘bee bombs’ and there is nothing wrong with them but if you really want to help wildlife in your local area ideally you want to use local seed,” said Furlong.

“Sowing seeds adapted to the exact microclimate of where you are in Scotland will be more successful and will have the most benefit for the pollinators in your area. You are more likely to get the blooms you are looking for and more likely to be attracting the butterflies and bees.

“Now is the perfect time. Pick a dry day and go out with an old cotton pillowcase and a pair of scissors and take a few seed heads from the wildflowers around the verges where you are. It is legal to take the seeds although it’s not legal to dig the flowers up.”

The seeds should be kept in a dry place before planting and are good at germinating but should not be just scattered on grass.

“You want to try and reduce the fertility of the topsoil by taking that layer of vegetation off as the seeds will do better then,” Furlong said.

The National: People plant seeds in LochinverPeople plant seeds in Lochinver (Image: NQ)

A spokesperson for RSBP Scotland said many people were taking steps to help wildlife in their gardens and outdoor spaces.

“It feels like a movement is underway in which people are recognising that our gardens can be wonderful, shared spaces for us and for wildlife, to the benefit of all,” said a spokesperson.

Wildflowers to plant in Scotland range from the dubious sounding devils-bit scabious to the sweet smelling violet and also include yarrow, cornflower, common knapweed, wild carrot, vipers bugloss, corn marigold, cats-ear, field scabious, rough hawkbit, ox-eye daisy, corn poppy, ribwort plantain, cowslip, primrose, selfheal, meadow buttercup, yellow rattle, hedge woundword, mayweed and common violet.