Kate goes back to nature in visit to Natural History Museum’s wildlife garden

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The Duchess of Cambridge visited the Natural History Museum’s wildlife gardens this week, where she met local school children and learnt more about how communities across the UK will benefit from the Urban Nature Project (UNP), which the Museum is launching later this year.

The visit coincided with the publication of the Museum’s Annual Review which shows how it is addressing the planetary emergency. 

Her Royal Highness, who has been patron of the Museum since 2013, was met by Museum Director, Dr Doug Gurr, who explained how the project is helping people to reconnect with the natural world and find the solutions urgently needed to protect our planet’s future.

The project will see the Museum’s five-acre grounds transformed into a globally relevant urban nature epicentre complete with outdoor classrooms, a ‘living lab’ and a weatherproof  cast of the Museum’s famous diplodocus, Dippy. Crucially, the project will trigger a nationwide biodiversity movement. Led by the Museum, this will see a coalition of partners deliver science and learning programmes for young people, schools and families across the country. The aim is to help the Museum address, better understand and ultimately turn the tide on the rapid decline of urban biodiversity we’re witnessing today.  

Throughout the afternoon The Duchess got stuck into helping children from the nearby St. Mary of the Angels Primary School with some nature focused craft activities. She then joined the children on an immersive storytelling activity before touring the Wildlife Garden with Dr Gurr. 

Enroute Her Royal Highness helped staff affix an AudioMoth acoustic recording device to a nearby cherry tree. This tiny device will record ambient sound across a range of frequencies, both within human range, and beyond.  The data from this will help Museum scientists investigate patterns of bird, mammal and insect activity within the garden, including bats and pollinator communities. The device will stay onsite until the end of the summer, when the data will be analysed and used as part of the UNP National Schools Programme, which launches in September.  

Speaking about the visit, Dr Doug Gurr said,

“I’m delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness here today as we share some of the work the Urban Nature Project is doing to engage young people with the nature on their doorsteps.  

“Biodiversity, especially in urban settings, is under threat like never before. To survive, it needs young people to grow up with a desire to protect it. But without feeling excited by and engaged with the green spaces around them, this is in jeopardy.  That is why this project is crucial for our urban green spaces and all the species who call it home.”

The visit coincides with the launch this week of the Museum’s Annual Review, Solutions for Nature and from Nature which celebrates some of the key Museum partnerships, research and discoveries over the last year. 

From influential biodiversity research shared with the government, the 503 new species Museum scientists described in 2020 or the illustrious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards for which Her Royal Highness announced the winner – the annual review highlights how the Museum is making a lasting and positive difference to our global future. 

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