Frequently asked questions

You have questions. We have answers. Just click on the question to jump straight to the section you’re looking for. And if your questions isn’t on the list, get in touch!

  1. How exactly does the project work?
  2. What is in a season pack?
  3. What do we do with the season packs?
  4. Can you explain the Church Activity and Reserve Activity visits?
  5. That sounds like a lot of work. Do I have to do it all?
  6. If we are a participating church, what are we expected to do?
  7. We’re not confident identifying wildlife – how do we know what we are doing?
  8. This is a ‘pilot’? What does that mean?
  9. Is this an Eco-Congregation Scotland (ECS) project?
  10. Why should our congregation get involved?
  11. Will it cost our congregation money?
  12. How much time will this take?
  13. Why should we visit the RSPB Scotland reserve?
  14. What should we ask the RSPB Scotland staff/volunteers?
  15. Why does RSPB Scotland want to work with churches?
  16. What about other faiths?
  17. What other sites are involved?
  18. Something isn’t working – who do we talk to?
  19. What happens at the end of the project?

How exactly does the project work?
The project is very simple. Participating churches will be given access to four ‘Seasonal Resource Packs’, one every three months from Spring 2018. These are filled with ideas and actions for the participating churches, each one with relevant activities for the season and part of an overarching theme that ties them together.

The theme for our first year of the pilot is ‘home and hospitality’.

Over the course of the pilot year, the project will explore the basic elements of home: food and shelter. The packs will take churches on a journey from discovery to action which, with the help of local staff/volunteers, will result in a welcoming environment for wildlife at home, at church, and in the local community.

Participating churches will be invited to try out as many of the ideas and activities as possible as quarterly packs are released in Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter (2019).

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What is in a season pack?

The season packs are filled with simple ideas that encourage a congregation to get outside and do something a little different. Although it might look like a lot, these activities are designed to be off-the-shelf ideas which you can take and try almost straight away. No training required!

Season Packs will generally include the following:

  • A Church Activity which involves members of the congregation inviting RSPB Scotland to help them do something practical on their own grounds.
  • A Home Activity which involves individual members of the congregation trying something different at home.
  • A Children’s Activity which invites the young people’s groups to get involved.
  • A Reserve Activity which involves members of the congregation joining with RSPB Scotland staff/volunteers on a local site to learn more about nature and the skills to look after it.
  • A Worship Resource which can be used as necessary to provide reflection and context.

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What do we do with the Season packs?

The content packs are designed for churches and include contact details of the local RPSB Scotland staff/volunteers in your area involved in the pilot. For the full details, see question: ‘What is in a season pack?’

The packs will give tips and ideas of things to try but ideally you can take these and run with them as you see fit to come up with activities yourselves. This gives both you and the RSPB Scotland staff/volunteers the flexibility to pursue ideas that align with their own schedules, interests and ecological context.

You know your church better than anyone else, so you should look through the season pack to help you decide which activities might be most appropriate. Think about which members of your congregation are best for what, then get in touch with the RSPB Scotland staff/volunteers to discuss and arrange the visits.

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Can you explain a bit more about the Church Activity and Reserve Activity visits?

A major part of the project is making sure that individuals and congregations feel equipped and empowered to take action for nature. To do this, RSPB Scotland is getting involved to get their teams on board!

We hope that churches will use their local RSPB Scotland contact to invite staff/volunteers to their church to help them run the ‘Church Activity’. They will be able to provide tips, advice and practical support to help and empower you, making your church a better place for wildlife.

The RSPB Scotland teams will also invite you to visit them to see what they are up to locally. This is to help you learn more about nature in Scotland and provide you with opportunities to learn new and transferable skills in caring for creation both with RSPB Scotland and in your local area.

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That sounds like a lot of work. Do we have to do it all?

No, you don’t! It’s all voluntary and you can do what you like. However, the more you put into it, the more you will get out. This sounds clichéd, but some of the activities are chronological and thus skipping one might make a later activity less effective.

By signing up to be a part of the pilot, your participation is helping us develop the project further. The more you do, the more we can learn from it and bring the programme to other areas of Scotland.

We hope that you take the ideas in the season packs and make them your own.

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If we are a participating church, what are we expected to do?

We hope that you will give the activities a go, and we will be gathering feedback throughout the year to find out what works and what doesn’t. Generally speaking, the activities are designed to fit around the week-by-week activities of the church. This means that you shouldn’t have to worry about setting aside time for new activities, but rather thinking about how the Season Packs can be used in church life and weekly activities.

The activities that require the most amount of forward planning are the Church and Reserve Activities which should be coordinated with the individuals from RSPB Scotland. These should only take up a few hours during a morning or an afternoon and should be tailored around the groups involved.

As a church, you have full control over how and when you do the activities and who you chose to involve. You can do the activity as it is, or change it and make it your own. All we ask is that you give them a go and tell us how you get on. That’s it!

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We’re not sure we feel confident identifying wildlife – how do we know what we are doing?

The Season Packs are designed to be useable by anyone with an interest or passion for the natural world. You shouldn’t find too much science or theology bogging you down!

The activities are very straightforward, however part of the project involves pairing your church up with local individuals within RSPB Scotland and you can make full use of their skills and experience to help and teach you.

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 This is a ‘pilot’? What does that mean?

This means that we are trying something new and different in the hopes that we can build a bigger, more inclusive project down the line. It’s a test bed for ideas, and a learning experience for us. By signing up to the pilot programme, you are helping us build what will hopefully be a bigger and better programme in years to come, that will make a difference for churches and for nature. You can say you were there at the beginning!

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Is this an Eco-Congregation Scotland (ECS) project?

No. This project is a standalone project developed out of the Faith Action for Nature steering group, of which Eco-Congregation Scotland is a member. As such, it is a joint venture between all the participating organisations. ECS has agreed to take part in the project so as to provide new ways to engage eco-congregations in caring for creation.

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Why should our congregation get involved?

If you’re already a registered Eco-Congregation then you already understand the significance and importance of caring for creation. The State of Nature Report 2016 found that in the last 30 years, 56% of species in Britain had suffered decline and that the UK has lost significantly more nature than the global average. The index of measurement used in this report suggests the UK is among some of the most nature-depleted countries in the world.

We’ll leave the theology to you – the churches – but we can all recognise and understand the need to look after and care for God’s world. Taking part in Faith Action for Nature is a way to embrace the wonder of creation and be part of its renewal.

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Will it cost our congregation money?

No. The season packs are designed with the intention that they can be fit into the normal programme of the church. You will not be expected to spend any money on the project directly.

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How much time will this take?

As much as you like, but you could plan around two half days every three months – but ideally more, depending on levels of engagement, volunteer availability and so on.

This project has been designed to work alongside the existing work schedules of both RSPB Scotland and churches. The four season packs will be delivered over the course of the year and each includes two activities; a church visit, and a reserve visit.

In practical terms, this means a half day spent with on your grounds and a half day where you get to visit a reserve locally.

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Why should we visit the RSPB Scotland reserve?

The pilot programme includes opportunities to visit a local reserve four times in the year to take part in a half day’s activity. These will vary from place to place, so it is up to you to arrange the most suitable date, time and activity for your group. This could involve elderly people as well as children and members of your youth groups.

These visits are an invitation to use the opportunities offered by RSPB Scotland to learn more about nature in Scotland and what can be done to look after it. These visits should help you see the bigger picture and the wonders of creation!

It’s up to you to make the most of these visits, but feel free to ask questions and seek ways to develop new skills to help you care for creation better. You should feel comfortable discussing future visits with them and how you are going to follow up together and what you want to achieve for the next season.

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What should we ask the RSPB Scotland staff/volunteers?

Once per season, you should invite your local RSPB Scotland contact to visit you and your grounds. This visit is so they can help you identify the different habitats and species you have and inspire you with ideas about what projects you could do. The first visit will probably be more of a meet and greet, but you should show them around your grounds and ask them lots of questions.

You can use the resources to help you but you should let your ideas and aspirations flow freely. Your enthusiasm and can-do attitude are likely to be a big factor in how they can help you develop your grounds for wildlife.

Follow up visits could be much more practical, as they can bring along equipment and volunteers to help with a specific task or project identified in a previous visit.

The aim by the end of the four visits is that your church will have a deeper understanding of the ecological niches within your own grounds and how to encourage wildlife to make them a home.

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RSPB Scotland is not religious organisation – why do they want to work with churches?

Studies have found that there is a strong link between environmental awareness and faith. RSPB Scotland has been exploring this link for a number of years through a discussion group involving the Church of Scotland, Eco-Congregation and the Scottish Episcopal church.

The RSPB, among other environmental organisations, recognises the urgent need to look after nature and recognises that faith communities have a significant role to play. Many faith communities across Scotland own areas of land that are currently not managed with wildlife in mind. The Faith Action for Nature project has been developed alongside RSPB Scotland in order to inspire and equip faith communities to manage their properties better.

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What about other faiths?

As a pilot project, Faith Action for Nature will be working with churches and Christian communities. There are existing relationships with relevant organisations that make it a good place to trial ideas – particularly the Eco Congregations network, which can identify churches with a proven interest in the environment and nature. If the approach proves successful, it may be possible to work with other faiths in future, and the name Faith Action for Nature reflects that openness.

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What other sites are involved?

The pilot is taking place in a variety of locations, in order to test the process in different types of reserve and different church contexts. The participating areas are the Orkney Islands, Loch Lomond, and in the North East around the Loch of Strathbeg. Churches in Glasgow and Edinburgh will test the idea in an urban environment.

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Something isn’t working – who do we talk to?

There will be a number of contacts you can get in touch with. These will include the RSPB Scotland contact, Eco-Congregation Scotland, and the project manager.

Members of the Faith Action for Nature steering group will also available for help and support throughout the duration of the pilot.

There are several ways to get in touch:

You can use the contact form on the website which will put you in touch with Eco-Congregation Scotland who will either help you directly or put you in touch with someone local to you who can.

You can also leave comments on the Feedback form on the website, which you will hopefully using to review the season packs anyway.

Further details about how to get in touch, such as the web-links and phone numbers will be public when the project launches.

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What happens at the end of the project?

At the end of the year, the pilot will enter an evaluation stage in which feedback will be gathered and analysed. In April 2019 the pilot will finish unless otherwise stated.

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