Kirsty Nutt, RSPB Scotland Communications Manager, shares her love story and explains why green hearts were trending this Valentine’s Day.
What did you Show the Love for this Valentine’s day?
Over the last few weeks, amid the barrage of champagne, roses and cutesey pink and red hearts all designed to impress upon you the importance of telling your significant other how much you care there were voices with a different purpose drawing attention to hearts of a different colour.
These green heart-clad lovers were celebrating the special places and other things that we don’t want to lose to climate change through the ‘Show The Love’ campaign. People were asked to make and don green hearts to support the campaign and show that climate change is an issue that they care about.
Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS), of which RSPB Scotland is a part, also asked people to support calls for continued ambitious efforts from the Scottish Government on the Climate Change Plan and Climate Bill by writing to their MSP.
From baking green heart goodies to stunning craft creations, charities, celebrities (like Tim Peake and Gordon Buchanan) and people from across the UK (from Norwich to Manchester to Scotland) joined forces to #showthelove on social media and in person. There’s a gallery here where you can view posts about many of the things (from woodlands to skiing and from birds to chocolate) and the special places people want to protect.
The special places, that people are celebrating, provide important homes for wildlife as well as benefiting society by providing essential resources such as clean drinking water and cleaner air through combating the effects of air pollution. They also reduce flooding risks and improve people’s physical and mental wellbeing. These special places include RSPB Scotland nature reserves, and all across the country our reserves took park with engaging activities for all age groups to show how much they care about these special places and others.
I was at RSPB Scotland Loch Leven on Friday 10 February when Cabinet Sectary Roseanna Cunningham MSP visited to celebrate this special place in her constituency and discover more about the threat climate change poses to this popular visitor attraction. As part of the visit she was presented with a felt green heart made by an RSPB member who wants to show the love for “nature and endangered species around the world”.
Roseanna Cunningham MSP receiving her green heart from Rea Cris (RSPB Scotland Parliamentary Officer) by Kirsty Nutt.
Roseanna Cunningham said: “I would encourage people across Scotland to get involved in the Show the Love campaign which is highlighting the importance of protecting some of our most treasured places and peatlands in our efforts to tackle climate change. Peatland is not only a key habitat for wildlife and biodiversity, but it plays an important role in carbon capture and helps reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
“Improving and investing in our peatlands is crucial if we are to continue to build on our world leading low carbon ambitions, which saw us exceed our 2020 emissions reductions targets, six years early.”
“We recently published a draft Climate Change Plan which sets out a package of policies and proposals that will help maintain Scotland’s reputation as a climate leader within the international community.”
Part of the Loch Leven National Nature Reserve, RSPB Scotland Loch Leven is an internationally important home for wetland wildlife. The loch supports one of the highest concentrations of breeding ducks in Europe and is a key stop over point on one of Europe’s biggest migration fly-ways for pink-footed geese and whooper swans. Over the years, RSPB Scotland has worked hard to restore and improve the wetlands here and has thus become the only significant home for waders in the Loch Leven area. This includes lapwings that have suffered severe declines elsewhere across the UK. But climate projections for east Scotland predict less summer rainfall in the future which will make storing winter rainfall essential to keeping the wetlands wet all year and continuing to provide homes for the many species that rely on the reserve.
Roseanna was joined at Loch Leven by Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh MP and both wrote on the #ShowtheLove mural in the cafe at Loch Leven.
It was nice to see my heart next to theirs. I chose to #ShowtheLove for seabirds and particularly kittiwakes. They have suffered huge declines in recent decades and we know, from detailed research, that these declines are linked to low chick survival due to food shortages driven by changing sea temperatures. Even though on a cold winter’s day, a summer visit to a seabird colony seems a long way off, I am anticipating a warm breezy day in the not too distant future when I will make my regular pilgrimage to my favourite spot on the Aberdeenshire coast to experience the full sensory invasion – sight, sound and smell! – that only a seabird colony provides. For me there is nothing quite like it and I cannot describe the empty feeling inside me as I contemplate the thought of losing this. But neither can I face losing the wonderful wildlife that lives on our high Scottish mountains (Roseanna’s choice) or the wealth of wetland wildlife that calls Loch Leven home.
Our protected areas are crucial tools in protecting the wildlife we love against climate change. Woodlands and peatlands help mitigate against climate change by being effective carbon sinks and wetlands provide essential flood management. These benefits will become even more important as the impacts from climate change become more pronounced and widespread.
Protected areas play a crucial role in protecting and reversing declines of wildlife and habitats too. Reversing declines in wildlife requires a concerted and coordinated effort by public bodies, NGOs and private landowners, to use adequate resources and targeted funding to improve the condition of protected areas. However, if the #showthelove campaign shows us anything, it is that there is hope. Because if we work together, to stand up for what we love, we really can make a difference.