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Celebrating nature this Earth Day

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Katherine Veck

22 April 2024 marks Earth Day. Originating in 1970 to promote environmental consciousness, it symbolises the inception of the modern environmental movement. This Earth Day, the UoL Sustainability Team encourage you to notice the beautiful nature that surrounds you, either in Bloomsbury or wherever you are studying in the world.

To celebrate this year’s Earth Day theme of ‘Planet vs Plastics’, I firstly want to link back to a recent article about the ubiquitous plastic bottle. On our London campus, we recently made a switch away from plastic bottles to aluminium cans for all our soft drinks too, as these are endlessly recyclable. This move will save over 6,000 plastic bottles being purchased every year from our café!

And if you’ve made it this far, then I encourage you to spare a few minutes to read this blog, and consequently pause and reflect on the beauty and wonder of everyday biodiversity, both in the parks of Bloomsbury (London) or wherever you are studying in the world. 

After all – nature is something that connects us all, and if we don’t have appreciation for it, we won’t be motivated to protect it.

Wide angle shot of Gordon Square in the sunshine
April 2024 in Gordon Square, part of the University of London Estate. Bluebells and Cow Parsley can be seen in shot.

What can be seen in late April/May in Bloomsbury, London?

As part of the University of London estate in Bloomsbury, Central London, we have four squares, providing refuge from the busy city streets for birds, beetles, perennials and everything in-between. There are also many other parks in the locality not owned by the University.

Plant-life:

The snowdrops and spring crocuses (the first signs of spring) might be fading, but the gardens are bursting with vibrant hues as we enter peak springtime. From the serene blues and purples of Bluebells, Forget-me-Nots and Periwinkles, cheerful yellows of Buttercups, Dandelions and Lesser Celandine to whites of Three-cornered Leeks, Cow Parsley and Yarrow – and much more in-between. 

Trees: 

The majestic London Planes are coming into leaf.

Picture of Gordon Square in Spring, Wild Garlic and Bluebells in shot

Animal-life:

  • Keep an eye out for bees! Alongside our resident UoL honeybees (living on the rooftop of our Institute for Advanced Legal Studies) you might see the hairy-footed flower bee zooming around, or the tree, white or buff-tailed bumblebee species.
  • Orange-tip butterflies lay their eggs on garlic mustard, which we have planted in our squares. Peacock butterflies are also seen in Bloomsbury.
  • As it’s been so wet and mild this winter (in the UK) there are lots of slugs and snails. Did you know there are over 44 species of slugs and 90 species of snails in the UK? 
  • Birds are nesting! New bird boxes were put up in Gordon Square during National Nest Box Week in February.
  • Squirrels are building their nests (Dreys).

Not based in London? We would love to hear what is going on in your corner of the world and challenge you to pay extra attention to, and share, what nature is seasonal where you are right now. 

Let us know and share thoughts and pictures on social media @londonu with the hashtag #UoLEarthDay.

Graphic showing proposed walking route of bloomsbury parks
ALT text: A map of Bloomsbury with arrows highlighting walking directions. Starting at Russell Square, the 1hr loop goes to Woburn Square Gardens, Gordon Square, Tavistock Square, Cartwright Gardens, Bramber Green, Regent Square Gardens, St George’s Gardens, Brunswick Square and Queen Square Gardens.