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Families encouraged to celebrate nature during week-long festival

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ISLANDERS are being invited to open their eyes to the natural world as the National Trust for Jersey presents its fourth annual environmental festival from Monday (25 May).

Wassailing at the Elms with the Helier Morris Men and members of the public. Donna Le Marrec from the National Trust serves warm cider. Picture: JON GUEGAN. (28438857)

Although lockdown means that the #LoveNature Festival will not involve formal gatherings this year, the trust has set out an extensive programme online so that individuals and families can devise their own event running order over half-term week.

Set in and around St Ouen’s Bay in Jersey’s National Park, the festival coincides with the spectacular appearance of the wild orchids at Le Noir Pré and it encourages visits to a range of other sites including La Mielle de Morville and St Ouen’s Pond – La Mare au Seigneur.

Among the resources available online are a series of videos about the life of a ranger, showing what happens behind the scenes, while local botanist Tina Hill will be lifting the lid on the magic and folklore of the wild flowers and plants found in and around the bay. Wildlife photographer Romano da Costa has created a bird-spotter guide for visits to St Ouen’s pond.

La Mare au Seigneur, also known as St Ouen's Pond (28438861)

Marketing and events manager Donna Le Marrec described the festival as ‘very child friendly’ and she explained that many of the events had been devised with younger environmentalists of the future in mind.

‘They can discover wildlife on bug safaris and rock-pool rambles by downloading the booklets from the #LoveNature site, as well as the Nature Detective notebook. They can also enjoy a cycle tour and a self-guided trail around the bay, and we are asking young and old to create poetry inspired by nature,’ she said.

One of the festival highlights is the sight of the orchid meadows at Le Noir Pré, with their three species in full bloom – the southern marsh orchid, the Jersey orchid and the spotted orchid – which make up some of the Island’s 90,000 orchids, an increase from a mere 1,500 over the past 25 years.

For the third year running, the festival is being funded by Jersey Electricity. The company’s chief executive, Chris Ambler, said that the organisation was pleased to be able to support the initiative again this year in its new virtual format.

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He added: ‘The lockdown brought about by Covid-19 has made everyone even more appreciative of the natural world.

‘It has also shone an even stronger light on the impact of human activity on the environment.’ Mr Ambler said that Jersey Electricity was pleased to recognise the important work of the National Trust for Jersey and to support its recent initiatives, including the reforestation of Mourier Valley and its education programme, as well as the #LoveNature Festival.

Details of the festival are available at: nationaltrust.je/lovenaturefestival.

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