Weeds Wanted An investigation into rewilding in Liverpool. A citizen science project about the plants that are considered ‘weeds’ in the UK. Councils forced to leave public spaces unattended have allowed natural development during lockdown, creating a haven for wildflowers. These spaces have re-emerged into a symbol of tenacity and regrowth. Those of us with no access to outdoor space must take comfort in unexpected encounters with nature. In the urban streets of Liverpool ‘weeds’ may be the only plants we see on our short daily walk outside. Although often unwelcome, these plants are a crucial part of the food chain and plant community. Dandelions are one of the first food sources for bees when they emerge from the hive in spring whilst Buddleia provides food and shelter for butterflies.
As of 2018 only 15% of UK scientists were from working class backgrounds. Citizen science uses the public to undertake scientific research and inform local policy. The wider aim of this project is to allow small green spaces to grow naturally to aid our local ecosystems. Identifying spaces at a local council level that could be used for rewilding and introducing a ‘no mow month’, a set period of time each year for some public spaces to be allowed to grow naturally, creating a buffer for wildlife.
During lockdown 1 (spring/summer 2020) I recorded the natural rewilding of a small patch of land in a car park near my home. Usually, it is mowed frequently so no plants can grow. While this was suspended for two months a range of plants we may consider ‘weeds’ flourished. With the plants brought more insects and therefore more birds, even though it was a small patch of natural land in the middle of a concrete urban area. The Weeds Wanted project considers urban rewilding and citizen surveying as an important environmental practice.
Jay Hampton is a working-class citizen SciArtist from Liverpool with a BSc Earth & Ocean Sciences and Zoology from the University of Liverpool and MA Art in Science from LJMU.
Her practice is based around citizen science and the environmental changes during the Anthropocene. Most projects use climate data trends to look forward to the year 2050, while her main areas of research are the future of food, biosensors, climate change as a public health issue and the importance of the ocean as an atmospheric buffer.