Towards a Greener Canterbury

by Beverley Paton, Chair of the ‘Green and Biodiversity’ Working Group and Deputy Chair of the Canterbury Society

There are initiatives in the city that are making Canterbury a greener and more enjoyable place to live. Through partnership between volunteers, the city council and various charitable organizations including the Canterbury Society, a number of major ‘greening’ projects are underway. These include:

The Butterfly Garden. This is a walled garden, alongside the River Stour, occupying a building gap in Pound Lane that was created in 1983 by the demolition of two 19th century cottages. The garden was planted in memory of local publisher Kenneth Pinnock, who received the John Hayes Award for his book ‘A Canterbury Childhood’ published after his death in 2009.  As he was one of the founders of the Canterbury Society it was decided that the award should go to the Canterbury Society, who used the money to help with the costs of planting in the Butterfly Garden. A memorial plaque commemorating the event was placed in the garden on 19 June 2010. In 2018 the Butterfly Garden was refreshed with a new design and re-planting by volunteers.

The Franciscan Way: forms part of the riverside walk in Canterbury (behind the Franciscan Chapel and garden) and was constructed in 1990 by Canterbury City Council, on land gifted to the city by the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral. It connects Greyfriars Garden to Stour Street and is a popular walkway for residents, students and tourists. It is lined with flowerbeds, some of them raised, and interspersed with benches for people to enjoy this peaceful enclave away from the bustle of the city. In autumn 2020 a replanting project was started, during which the beds were re-composted, spring bulbs planted and during the spring and summer of 2021 new perennials have been added. Volunteers also water the beds and keep the walkway free of litter. The aim of the new planting has been to improve the flowerbeds for pollinators and other wildlife, with long flowering varieties added and plants which flower sequentially during the different seasons. Solitary mining bees are already present. Funding for this project has been received from the KCC combined member grant scheme.

The Three Cities Garden is the small oasis of land in the centre of the city beside the Olive Grove restaurant and behind Patisserie Valarie. In cooperation with the city and council and with financial support from the Martello Fund, is being replanted and landscaped. This project will start this September. All the work is being done by volunteers under the auspices of the Canterbury Society.

Canterbury Biodiversity Network. There is a growing acceptance the world is facing two interrelated environmental crises – a climate crisis on the one hand and a biodiversity crisis on the other.  This has been evidenced by a series of high-level reports demonstrating the unprecedented loss of species and ecosystems over the last 50 years. With this in mind, the Canterbury Biodiversity Network was set-up in late 2020. The aims of this group are to create a greater awareness of the key challenges facing the natural environment in the Canterbury district and to develop strategies to overcome these.

Plastic Free Canterbury: A Plastic Free Canterbury initiative was formed in 2020 to complement the successful Plastic Free town campaigns on the Kent coast and to gain Plastic Free accreditation for Canterbury from Surfers Against Sewage. The group was set up under the umbrella of the Canterbury Climate Change Partnership and involves councillors, the BID (Business Improvement District) and members of the local community and community groups, including Canterbury Society 2021.

The Canterbury Riverside Group: This brings together main stakeholders involved with caring for the Stour River green corridor through Canterbury (roughly Hambrook Marshes to Fordwich). It includes the city council, the Environmental Agency, Residents’ Associations, Canterbury Society and BID. Its purpose is to develop biodiversity, maintenance of open spaces along the river corridor, litter and pollution, and water levels in the river.

All these initiatives are being pursued by committed partnerships with local authorities, the private sector and various statutory organisations. But these are heavily dependent upon the goodwill energies of volunteers. All are very welcome to become involved with these greening strategies. Those that are interested should contact me, beverleypaton@jesararts.net.

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