Volunteers invite the public to visit Essex rail station gardens in first-of-kind event

Lifestyle / Fri 17th May 2024 at 09:23am

RAIL station gardens in Essex will be on display to the public this summer as the Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership launches East Anglia’s first railway station ‘Open Gardens’ event.

The first Open Garden will be at Wrabness station on 20 May to coincide with the start of national Community Rail Week, which celebrates what can be achieved when the community and railway work together.

Wrabness station adopter volunteers will be at the station on 20 May from, 10.30am until 1pm, to show people around the attractive station garden and new wildlife area. They will be joined by representatives from Greater Anglia, the Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership and Community Rail Network.

Further Open Gardens will take place at South Woodham Ferrers station (4 June, 10.30am until 1pm), Rayleigh station (9 July, 10am until noon), Alresford (12th August – 10am to 1pm) and Witham (6 September, 10am until 1pm), where people can meet the volunteers and discuss the gardens.

Jayne Sumner, Essex & South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership Engagement Manager, said:

“We hope our Open Gardens events will attract lots of people to come out and see the amazing things that are being done to keep their local rail stations looking attractive and supporting wildlife, and I hope it will encourage people to take the opportunity to try a trip by train through our beautiful Essex countryside for a fun and memorable day out.”

Alan Neville, Greater Anglia’s Customer and Community Engagement Manager, said:

“It is fantastic that Essex & South Suffolk CRP and our adopters in Essex have launched this event in a year when we are celebrating the success of our incredible Station Adoption initiative, which is now in its 20th year and has led to the development of some amazing station gardens along the rail lines in East Anglia.

“Thanks to the care and attention of our team of station adopters, we have thousands upon thousands of plants thriving at our rail stations which helps not only to make them more welcoming but are benefiting the environment too.”

There are 66 station gardens on the operator’s network, which together now cover an area of more than 9,000 square metres.

Each garden provides a vital additional habitat for local wildlife and food for pollinators, as well as making the stations more attractive and welcoming, contributing to human wellbeing too.

The gardens, some of which have been developed over many years, are becoming havens for local wildlife populations – with the railway increasingly being recognised by ecologists as a ‘green corridor’ which provides a sanctuary for many different kinds of flora and fauna.

Greater Anglia station adopters reported a wide range of creatures visiting their stations including many different types of butterflies as well as bees, slow worms, bats, toads, foxes, deer and many varieties of birds, recording over 200 different species.

All of Greater Anglia’s station gardens are pledged to the WildEast movement, which aims to return 20% of the region back to nature by 2050 to help reverse the decline in the area’s native wildlife which is suffering badly from habitat loss.

Statistics show that, since 1970, many species have suffered including tree sparrows whose numbers have fallen by 85%, common toads, 68%, nightingales, 93% and hedgehogs whose numbers down from 30million to just 1 million.

WildEast aims to reverse this decline by asking everyone, including farming estates, industrial estates, housing estates, schools, gardens, allotments and churchyards, to give whatever land they can back to nature.

This can mean planting wildlife friendly areas or simply leaving the land as space for nature.

For more information see WildEast.co.uk/WePledge.

In addition, Greater Anglia has partnered with the region’s Wildlife Trusts to formally recognise the achievements of its teams of volunteer ‘station adopters’ to create wildlife havens at stations across its network, through the new ‘Greater Anglia Wildlife Friendly Stations Accreditation Scheme.’

So far, 19 stations have received an accreditation with more to come in 2024.

Over the last 20 years, since the start of station adoption in East Anglia, the initiative has thrived, so that the vast majority of Greater Anglia stations now have station adopters.

These ongoing increases in the areas adopted and the wildlife being seen on the stations show that the adopters are really playing their part in helping to make stations more biodiverse, as well as becoming more attractive gateways to the communities they serve.

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1 Comment for Volunteers invite the public to visit Essex rail station gardens in first-of-kind event:

2024-05-19 18:22:39

Community Rail Partnerships enable volunteers to adopt local 6stations, create spectacular gardens, turn old disused buildings into cafes and promote local railways. They do incredible work.

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