I started the Conserver Award of the John Muir Award last year, however, due to covid my progress started to slow down. To achieve this award, I have to commit 20 days over a six month period discovering a wild place, exploring it, conserving it and then sharing what I have found.

John Muir was born in Scotland in 1838, he moved to USA in 1849, is known as Father of the National Parks, he was an explorer, naturalist and conservationist. In 1890 he created the first National Park, Yosemite. Then in 1892, John Muir founded the Sierra Club, who till this day are protecting our environment.

What is my wild place? So for this award, most of my time has been spent at our allotment, however, I attended one day a week with Canal Connections going up and down Aire and Calder Main Line canal on a barge until lock-down. A few days with Young Rangers, doing a Butterfly count and a day on an eco farm and then I have spent some time doing an NNAS course on navigation exploring the hills of Ramsbottom and Littleborough.

Explore Challenge: By completing the days with Canal Connections, Young Rangers and my NNAS Navigation course, I have really been able to understand our allotment much more. I have noticed that there isn’t much wildlife at our allotment. I have seen very few birds, only 1 hedgehog, no frogs, one butterfly. Most allotments are either for poultry for their eggs or breeding them for meat, or vegetables that people are growing for their families. Which is totally understandable, however, we need our wildlife to continue to help us grow vegetables.

Conservation of my wild place: Over the last nine months I have been working with my mum and step dad on clearing our allotment. We had a plot which had a bath, shower screens, metal poles gone rusty, plastic sheets, overgrown trees. It was a mess. We did a few trips to the tip with the rubbish and then started work on the trees, however, we realised that they had protection orders on and therefore we figured that the plot itself was too shaded for what we wanted if we couldn’t cut back the trees. We therefore contacted the council and was given another plot which luckily was very straight forward with little rubbish but very overgrown weeds and had quite a lot of litter due to it being next to the public footpaths. This also put us back with what we had planned but we now have a better plan for our new plot.

To encourage wildlife, we are in the process of building a bug house for insects, bees and hopefully a hedgehog if we can find one at a rescue center to re-home. I plan to have an area of wild flowers for the bees and butterflies with the aim of hatching our own butterflies next summer. If we have enough room, I would also like to build a pond and get some frogs, again this will have to be next year now.

My next steps in conservation: I am really excited that I have been given a role to be on the youth board for a Green Influencers Scheme for youths aged between 14 and 20.

Bradley Brennand