Community groups across the Western Isles are invited to take part.
Community groups across Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are being invited by environmental charity, Keep Scotland Beautiful, to register and take part in the 2021 Beautiful Scotland and It's Your Neighbourhood initiatives.
Run by the charity in partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), the initiatives provide the opportunity for volunteers and groups to gain recognition for their efforts to protect and enhance their local places.
With 2021 being a big year for action on climate change and protecting biodiversity, the optional theme is ‘climate and nature friendly’ and all groups that register to participate will receive free pollinator-friendly seeds to help create blooming beautiful and #BeeDiverse places.
Last year, despite the challenges, the achievements of 200 groups across the country were supported and celebrated.
Many of those participating in the initiatives developed new ways of ensuring that the places they care about were looked after under the three pillars of community participation, environmental responsibility and gardening/horticultural achievement, despite the strict lockdown restrictions which were in place for a substantial period.
Catherine Gee, Deputy CEO of Keep Scotland Beautiful said: “We are facing a climate and nature emergency, but our research has shown that in the last year over 40 per cent of people have spent more time using outside spaces in their local neighbourhoods, reconnecting with the environment and their own communities. We’re looking forward to welcoming people from well-established groups, through to those just starting out, as they register for free support through the Beautiful Scotland or It’s Your Neighbourhood initiatives this year.
“As a thank you for all that volunteers are doing across the country we will send out pollinator seeds to those who register to help create an extra buzz as we collectively work to make Scotland clean, green and sustainable for both nature and people.”
David Carruthers, Coordinator from Gairloch Sitooterie – Wildlife Observation Garden said: “Being part of the network of community groups with an interest in enhancing neighbourhoods across Scotland has, particularly over the last year, given our local group inspiration, reassurance, recognition and a connection with others working towards the same goal.
"Since we first got involved in Its Your Neighbourhood three years ago, we’ve benefited from mentoring visits, newsletters, ongoing support from the team and, in addition last year, from online networking and celebration events and helpful Q&A sessions. I’d encourage those looking for a wee bit of support to get involved and give it a go.”
To widen the appeal this year, the organisation has introduced a non-judged category to Beautiful Scotland for those groups who would like to take part but feel the competition element is perhaps just a little too much for them at this time, for whatever reason, but still do ‘their bit’.
Registration for Beautiful Scotland and It’s Your Neighbourhood is open until 30 April 2021 and more information can be found at www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org