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Award for Aberdeen Biodiversity Project

Wednesday January 18 2023

A biodiversity project in the grounds of an Aberdeen cathedral has won second place in a national ‘pollinator friendly’ awards scheme.

The team behind the St Machar Biodiversity Project were presented with their Naturescot prize last week by Steven Shaw, Environmental Manager for Aberdeen City Council, representing Keep Scotland Beautiful.

Education Officer, Katherine Williams explained that she and her colleague Phoenix Archer, Outreach Officer, started offering gardening sessions to the local community when indoor activities were restricted. The project gathered momentum with people wanting to be out in the fresh air, feel more connected with others and help the natural world.

A steering group of local people representing the Cathedral, Seaton Park and the Old Aberdeen Community Association work with the City Council’s maintenance team to devise a grass cutting scheme, reviewed annually, that would be both sustainable and beneficial to increase the biodiversity in the kirkyard. These means that some areas are still kept cut short and other areas are left longer, cut only once or twice a year, to create different habitats for different plants and creatures.

The group have also boosted the food supply available by planting low growing Thyme and early flowering bulbs such as crocus to help nourish pollinators. In the longer areas of grass, wildflowers such as Red campion, Ox-Eye Daisy and Bird’s Foot Trefoil, grown from local seed by John and Kate Malster from Curam Fyvie, were planted. A BioBlitz was led by North East Scotland Biological Records Society and over a hundred variety of plants recorded. This year the group aims to plant more wildflowers, put up nesting boxes and run educational workshops for all ages in the grounds.

The group hopes to encourage other kirkyards in the area, and inspire them to work with nature too.

The gardening group meet monthly during the growing season and anyone wanting to join in is very welcome. No gardening knowledge is necessary. Keep a look out on social media and the cathedral website,, for details of the next session.

For more information contact Katherine Williams, Education Officer on 


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