A West Midlands church was one of hundreds to take part in a week-long 'nature count' which encouraged people to visit churchyards and record what they saw.
School pupils and others came to St Michael's & All Angels in Pelsall to enjoy the Churches Count On Nature activity which ran alongside Love Your Burial Ground week from 5-13 June.
Interim Minister the Revd Alison Morris takes up the story: "Celebrating and appreciating the beauty and rich diversity of God’s creation is fundamental to the vision of St Michael’s & All Angels Church. Working towards the bronze award with A Rocha for Eco Church we have a deep desire to care for and protect our churchyard and cemetery for future generations to come. So, it was with great excitement that our church decided to take part in Churches Count on Nature and Love Your Burial Ground. This imaginative project which was open to all denominations and jointly run by the conservation charities Caring for God’s Acre, A Rocha UK, the Church of England, and the Church in Wales.
"With great enthusiasm St Michael's Church engaged with the local community. Local schools and our local councillors were encouraged along with anyone who had a love of nature or those who may not have visited before to come and explore the churchyard and the cemetery. Many pupils participated from Pelsall Village School, St Michael's Church School and Ryder Hayes School. Very carefully pupils helped to build a picture of burial ground biodiversity by recording what they saw, where they saw it and when they saw it. Pupils’ records of the plants, fungi, insects and birds led them to see a little of what lives in our part of God’s acre. Their results were combined with others, which were collated on the National Biodiversity Network (NBN), a national database of wildlife in the UK.
"At the same time the Love Your Burial Ground project provided an inspiring chance for pupils to see, experience end learn about the history, culture and heritage of Pelsall cemetery and churchyard. Creative learning activities motivated them to see that these places are full of historical stories of those lives well loved and those tragically cut short. Pupils located the six Commonwealth War Graves of Pelsall of men who died in either the First or Second World War. This together with research on styles and materials of monuments and graves led them to track the development of the arts and local styles.
"Finally, and perhaps importantly the project helped all who came to see how churchyards and cemeteries over the years have offered a space for quiet contemplation, reflection, meditation or simply a place of stillness for our communities in an urban area."
The data from the Nature Count is being collated on the National Biodiversity Network.