Wild Glades… Bromley’s first Biodiversity Festival goes online

24 March 2021
Claire Hector

The Wild Glades Festival, a two-day online celebration of the natural world in Bromley is set to bring the richness of urban biodiversity – and some real rewilding too – to schools and families across the London and Kent borders this week, thanks to an innovative collaboration between Isle of Wight Biosphere ecologists and artists, one of London’s most popular shopping centres The Glades, and real estate investment managers LaSalle.

Wild Glades has been curated by Artecology and showcases a raft of brilliant and diverse contributions from nature experts, scientists, artists and makers drawn from the Isle of Wight Biosphere and beyond.  Over 70 schools across London have been invited to take part and all have been sent a special Wild Glades wildflower seed mix to kickstart their own Wild Glades rewilding in school grounds. Wild Glades invitations, if not the seeds, have also gone out to every Island primary school too!

What to expect….

On Thursday 25th and Friday 26th March, audiences can head to a specially designed website for a packed timetable; discover about the project, and everyday wildlife up-close with Ian Boyd and whole microscopic worlds with BBC One’s The One Show scientist Marty Jopson, tune in for special urban jungle animations and filming tips with young film-makers, and find all sorts of ways to celebrate nature, get creative and take practical action for wildlife!  Thanks to special how-to features, you can learn how to earthcast your own birdbath and make your very own roof garden or ecosystem… even dandelion honey!  Look out for the work of one of our youngest contributors, 15-year-old wildlife enthusiast Rosie Johnson, Instagram’s Secret Skylark and founder of Young Nature Watch IW… and listen out for the Wild Glades theme tune, created by Isle of Wight musician Paul Armfield.  There is even a Wild Glades flag, made and flown by festival creative, Liz Cooke. With design and digital wizardry – as well as schools rallying – from the team at Bewonder* for the Wild Glades website, it’s a really special place to be!

Just a few of our contributors here….

The idea for the online festival grew (quite literally!) from a green roof design project spear-headed by Arc and Artecology, part of their wider biodiversity strategy programme with LaSalle, and when The Glades team came across Sandown Bay’s Hullabaloo.   Rewilding is rare across retail but The Glades, and LaSalle, have really embraced the challenge, with this revitalised roof garden as their first biodiversity project and their celebration’s starting point.  As a result, audiences across Bromley will be able to learn about everyday wildlife, what biodiversity is and why it matters, and the crucial role it plays in creating healthy environments for all. Links forged with local stakeholder and resident groups, the excellent Greener & Cleaner Bromley & Beyond mean that the project is truly sustainable too.

Nigel George, Artecology and Arc said, ‘The Glades Shopping Centre in Bromley and LaSalle Investment Management are leading their industry sectors when it comes to innovative urban rewilding strategies and meaningful engagement with communities, with the help of Arc, Artecology and Island Biosphere creatives. Working on big world issues like biodiversity loss and climate change is no longer only the concern of environmentalists and scientists. It’s clear too that the Island is fast becoming a go-to place for all things Biosphere – that mix of nature, people, place – and that our Isle of Wight Biosphere’s ecology and creative industry are increasingly exporting their expertise, perfect timing as the global call is for ‘lighthouse’ examples of best practice.’

The team here would like to say a massive thanks to all our contributors and especially to Mark Haynes at The Glades, Anna Rippin and Murad Bushnaq at Bewonder*, Clare Searle at Greener & Cleaner Bromley & Beyond and Charlotte Eley at Bromley’s Environmental Education Centre.