On Tuesday 18th October Young Scot and YouthLink Scotland brought together a group of 8 climate activists from across Scotland to the RSPB Baron’s Haugh Nature Reserve in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire.
While on site, the group reflected on the legacy of COP26 and looked ahead to COP27, took part in some filming for a BBC Scotland documentary and got involved in some hands-on environmental work.
Both groups of young people were either involved in the COP26 Scottish Youth Climate Programme, developed in partnership with Keep Scotland Beautiful or Scotland’s Young People’s Forest and are all passionate about taking action on the climate and nature crisis. Scotland’s Young People’s Forest are currently working in partnership with the RSPB Baron’s Haugh nature reserve to equip the young people with vital skills and knowledge in forest and land management to prepare them for when they have their own Young People’s Forest site in the future.
Baron’s Haugh is an important community nature reserve and the wetland habitat is home to species including otters, kingfishers and nuthatches, as well as an abundance of different amphibians and insects. While at the nature reserve, the group of climate activists spent their time building a hibernaculum and a hedgehog house, led by RSPB warden, David.
David Anderson, RSPB Baron’s Haugh Warden
‘It was fantastic having the young people down to the reserve for the day, especially since the weather stayed nice which is of course never guaranteed during autumn in Scotland. We spent the morning creating small scale habitats for some of the wildlife that uses the reserve during the winter months, including a hibernaculum for amphibians and reptiles and hedgehog house. These provide vital refuges for hibernating animals and as such play a vital role in the lifecycle of these species. It was great to see the young people getting stuck in to the task with such enthusiasm (even if it times it just felt like digging an endless hole!) and I am already looking forward to welcoming them back to the reserve over the coming months!’
BBC Scotland weather presenter Judith Ralston was keen to get involved with activities while interviewing the young people and asked the group what their hopes for COP27 were, if they felt COP26 had made an impact a year on, and what they were doing to continue to take positive social action against the climate emergency. Here are some of the young people’s reflections from the day:
Dylan S, COP26 Codesign Group, aged 24, Edinburgh
‘It was quite exciting, but a bit nerve wracking at the same time, being interviewed for a TV documentary. ‘BBC Scotland were there filming us, and even interviewed some of us. I helped basically build a ‘hedgehog hotel’. I’m not really sure if I ever did anything like that during COP26 or any other projects related to it.’
Dylan W, Local Climate Champion, aged 20, Falkirk
‘I received an exciting opportunity to be part of a small group of young climate campaigners that were to be interviewed by the BBC. My group were asked to build a hedgehog habitat and the other to dig a hibernaculum. As we worked, the film crew came round us one by one and the presenter began a conversation. While initially nerve-wracking the warm friendliness of Judith the presenter soon put me at ease and the chat began flowing well. I spoke about being inspired to get involved in environmentalism in the wake of COP in Glasgow, my lack of faith in the government’s will to tackle the climate emergency, and my belief in the power of the people to influence meaningful change.’
Emilija, Local Climate Champion, aged 21, Glasgow
‘When I heard that I’d have the opportunity to feature in a BBC Documentary on the aftermath of COP26, I was very much excited. COP26 had been such an enjoyable experience for me. I had loved reporting at the climate march, meeting so many interesting environmentalists and visiting the Green Zone through my role as a COP26 Local Champion. It would be wonderful being able to reminisce over these memories with other like-minded people. On a morning in October, we headed to a nature reserve in Motherwell, a welcome breath of fresh air after being cooped up in a city for so long. It was nice meeting many of the other young people who were involved with environmental activism and hearing all the cool things they’d been up to.’
Jeanette, Local Climate Champion, aged 25, Fife
‘On the day of recording the documentary I had a great time at Barons Haugh nature reserve. I enjoyed interacting with other young people from Scotland’s Young Peoples Forest and catching up with fellow colleagues from the Codesign group and Local Climate Champions. On the day my wee group made a habitat for small creatures. This involved a lot of digging which was very enjoyable. We were also chatting about what project we were from and about our future aspirations in terms of the climate emergency and our ambitions for COP27 in Egypt. From the day I also gained confidence in speaking in front of a camera and Judith helped to keep me on track with prompt questions which was very helpful.’
Marcus, COP26 Codesign Group, aged 18, Angus
‘It was a pleasure to be filmed for BBC Scotland and to meet Judith. She was so polite and kind and was genuinely interested in what I had to say. It was a great day and I loved getting out in nature!’