This Friday is World Wildlife Conservation Day and Darren Miller, one of the founders of Friends of Lightoaks Park in Claremont, is hoping people will realise the importance of protecting nature in Salford.
In March 2017, Mr Miller and a group of like-minded individuals came together to set up ‘Friends of Lightoaks Park’ to try and improve the park and its surrounding areas.
Earlier this year, Salford was voted the greenest place to live in England and Wales.
Mr Miller said: “It started with just improving the floor and by cleaning up the litter and educating people about litter, leaving litter and what damage it does.
“Obviously, things have snowballed since then because so much has happened with people getting involved.”
The group holds events regularly, and while it has had to call a halt to them because of the pandemic, Mr Miller is hoping to get back to planning activities in 2021.
“We have, generally, four seasonal events: one at Christmas, one at spring, one in the summer which is like a fête or musical attractions,” he said.
“As we have got towards the third and fourth year, we have been becoming more focussed on nature.
“We have seen a lot more activity in the park, a lot more appreciation, and hopefully we will be getting back on – as soon as we can – with the events for next year.”
During lockdown, a lot more people were out walking and appreciating nature, something which he thinks is “phenomenal.”
He stated: “It is good to see that people are getting about, they are enjoying the park and that they know it is there.
“For me to see people going out and going around the park daily, getting exercise and getting together and having conversations, that is fantastic and that was the whole purpose really.”
This map details just a handful of green spaces and parks that Salford has to offer:
Mr Miller also works in several conservation areas at Salford Quays. Here he is explaining the impact even small conservation areas have on wildlife:
For him, green places in cities are really important.
“At the end of the day, we are here because of nature,” he said.
“We are all animals, we’ve all got to eat, we’ve all got to breath fresh air, so I think just basically looking after nature is important because that is why we are here and some people have probably not appreciated it through either the location or where they live.”
He recalls attending a Manchester derby when he was younger and being taken aback by the greenery across the city.
“I looked over and I said, ‘what is all that over there dad, all that greenery’ and he said, ‘it is Salford that, son’ and that was 30 odd years ago,” he said.
“It is there for people in Salford, it is at the end of the street and obviously if you look after those areas, all that environmental care passes over into the gardens and so on.”