Glasgow University Environmental Sustainability Team (GUEST) is a team of 12 students employed by the university on a part-time basis to work on improving the environmental practice of the university. There are different branches of GUEST such as biodiversity, transport, waste & recycling, and community engagement. Each of the branches is led by a ‘Promoter’ and it was the Biodiversity Promoter and his volunteer team who applied for a Young Placechangers Ideas grant to improve the Wildlife Garden in the Gilmorehill campus, behind the Queen Margaret Union (QMU) and Lilybank House.

Young Placechangers project in a nutshell

The GUEST team wanted to revitalise the Wildlife Garden and promote it as a space open to all: Students, staff and people living near the university campus. They did this via evaluation of the garden, organising and publicising an event and working on the garden for that event. There are five gardens at the Hillhead campus, but whereas the other four are vegetable gardens, the Wildlife Garden is for wildlife and people and had become overgrown and inaccessible.

The student volunteers involved with preparing the gardens ahead of the event enjoyed regular weekly gardening sessions for the social aspect as well as to relieve a stressful day at university. They cleared weeds and brambles, and planted fruit trees. The Wildlife Garden Party was a great success with over 75 people attending. Approx. 50 participants were from the Campus community and 25 from the wider community.

“Attendees at the party gave verbal feedback and really enjoyed being in the gardens. Many people did not previously know they were there and were committed to coming back and getting more involved with gardening sessions”

Three outreach events for the wider community were planned for the following year: A community greenspace trail day, another Wildlife Garden Party and a celebration for Earth Day. Unfortunately, these events could not take place due to the pandemic.

Community Placemaking and the Place Standard

Place evaluation training helped the team to discover what aspects of the Wildlife Garden were successful or needed improvement. They learnt that seating areas would be hugely beneficial in attracting people to relax and enjoy the garden. Aesthetically, the brambles and weeds growing in the garden made it appear more like a disused space than a hub for spotting wildlife.

The team has implemented Garden Evaluation Forms, using the place evaluation template to gain a clearer insight into the impact of the gardens as well as features that users would like to see there.

Next steps and new partnerships

The Garden Evaluation Forms continue to be used at the regular gardening sessions as well as future garden events.

It was harder for the group to reach outside the Campus community than they had expected, so a partnership with the Natural Environment Officer from Glasgow City Council has been established to help with promotion. The wildlife garden is an important oasis for wildlife and people, in an area of Glasgow where many do not have access to private gardens.

The Young Placechangers project gave the Wildlife Garden a new lease of life and a project to hand over from one GUEST biodiversity promoter to the next. The GU Wildlife Garden is now firmly on the map of Glasgow University. New plans for 2021 included tidying up the paths, replanting the flower beds, and working with two local artists to add ceramic and metal artworks. When it’s possible a community event to show off the art will be arranged.

Find out more about the garden More Young Placechangers case studies

greenspace scotland engages and empowers young people through the Young Placechangers programme.

Young Placechangers puts young people in the lead role – bringing together the wider community to look at local spaces and plan improvements. The Young Placechangers programme has used a co-production approach to develop and pilot a training and support programme enabling young people to transform both the place they live, their relationship to it and the wider community.

Young Placechangers