Biodiversity and Children
What could be more rewarding than spending some time with your children observing life in your garden (or even your balcony or park)? Whether it is planting some seeds and watching them grow into veggies, or watching butterflies visit a flower and roll out their long “straw” to drink nectar, if you just take the time, your garden will give your children a moment of internal quietness while they witness amazing buzzing activity. Before you start, try to make enough free time in order to enjoy nature’s activities with the family. With a bit of patience and flexibility, you can involve even small kids in the preparation phase and pick and choose your favourite activities: 1. Give your children their own little plot of land or their own plant container. Ownership is important here! No mum/dad or big sibling needs to interfere in the young child’s personal approach when it…
Nature’s Helping Hand
Summertime is here! Before you head off to your summer destination, you can plan ahead with some help from nature. Don’t let minor stings and aches spoil your travel fun! Put together a natural first aid kit so you are prepared for the unexpected. When traveling, it’s always easier to have things close by and avoid the emergency scramble to find things and/or communicate your needs in a foreign language. All it takes is a few trips to an organic store and a pharmacy to take care of the essentials. So what are some emergency essentials to keep on hand? The Belgian Red Cross has a First Aid kit available for around 20 euros and contains all the basics including bandages, an emergency thermal wrap, etc. In addition, here are some natural remedies (in alphabetical order) to get you started. Arnica – a tube in gel or cream form of…
Mobility with Kids
I live less than 300 metres from a large grocery shopping complex. Due to my lack of a driver's license, this proximity to the shops was of primary concern when we chose our house (right behind price!). Yet shortly after moving in, I realised that my dream of popping up at the shops to do the weekly re-stocking of groceries had turned into a nightmare for one reason - the kids. In my dream, I had never bothered to work out the seemingly impossible logistics of transporting three small children (at the time, all under 5), four large bags of shopping and my own, increasingly lagging morale, for 300 metres. What had initially seemed a hop, skip and jump from the house was suddenly more daunting than a marathon. Finally, after yet another epic excursion with me trying in vain to strap babies to my body, toddler in pushchair, bags of…
Forêt de Soignes Tree Planting Event - March 2012
We are happy to report that our tree planting in the Forêt de Soignes / Zoniënwoud on 18 March was a complete success. More than 500 of you joined us and planted nearly 2,500 trees! Our heartfelt thanks to all you who came along or contributed. You can browse though some pictures of the event in our online album.
Summertime is here! Before you head off to your summer destination, you can plan ahead with some help from nature. Don’t let minor stings and aches spoil your travel fun! Put together a natural first aid kit so you are prepared for the unexpected.
When traveling, it’s always easier to have things close by and avoid the emergency scramble to find things and/or communicate your needs in a foreign language. All it takes is a few trips to an organic store and a pharmacy to take care of the essentials.
So what are some emergency essentials to keep on hand? The Belgian Red Cross has a First Aid kit available for around 20 euros and contains all the basics including bandages, an emergency thermal wrap, etc. In addition, here are some natural remedies (in alphabetical order) to get you started.
Arnica – a tube in gel or cream form of this is useful for any trauma – but do not use on open wounds. Arnica also comes in oil form which you can use on sore and strained muscles. Try arnica in homeopathic form for internal use to minimize trauma.
Aloe Vera – the gel of this plant is great for sunburns and skin irritations.
Calendula – available in many forms including cream, this plant has soothing, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties often used for healing wounds and burns. Many baby creams and oils contain calendula to help skin irritations.
Charcoal – look for this at a bio store and get the activated charcoal variety. This is a highly absorbent powder that is great for stomach ailments including diarrhea. It comes in powder, granular or capsule form (easiest when traveling).
Clay – Bring along a tube of ready-to-use green clay paste made from raw illite clay which can be used for clay packs and compresses in case of bone or muscle damage.
Essential oil-based insect repellant – make your own or buy one of the ready-prepared mixes that include essential oils like lemongrass, peppermint, cedar, geranium, or rosemary.
Natural eye drops made from euphrasia are useful for long flights. They come in handy, single-use tubes.
Ginger – with anti-spasmodic properties, ginger capsules are especially useful for motion sickness. Keep on hand for car or sea sickness. Another easy way to bring it with you is in tea bag form. You can also try specially formulated wrist bands that use acupressure to soothe stomach upsets.
Homeopathic remedies – head over to a specialist pharmacy like Debrus-Tensi near Montgomery for some tubes to help with common problems like runny nose, fever, stings, and overindulgence. You can also get homeopathic bug bite ointments.
Oregano – another plant with anti-bacterial properties that comes in capsule form, oregano is useful at the onset of a cold or sore throat. Pranarom has a whole line of essential oil formulas that come in capsule or spray form for easy transport and storage.
Other essential oils that come in handy include lavender and tea tree oil. Lavender is easy to use directly on the skin (test a small area first to ensure there are no allergies) and helps with burns and wounds. It’s also good for relaxing and for easing headaches. Both lavender and tea tree take the swelling and itch out of mosquito bites. Tea tree has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.
Rescue Remedy - Bach flower remedies for calming all kinds of emotions like anger, grief, and fear are also handy to have. There is also a specific night time formula to help with sleeplessness.
Keep all of the above in a safe place – you can get creative and store them all in a recycled cookie tin or lunch box, and remember to include some padding for the glass bottles so the contents stay safe for traveling.
Spend time in nature and you might just be curing what ails you. Easier said than done, you might say. After all, the weather in Belgium isn't always kind to those who spend time in the outdoors. Those gloomy grey skies with the ever present rain clouds? How can they amount to any good apart from keeping Belgium a very green place to live? And what about all the puddles, mud and cold weather? It doesn't sound like the recipe for a fun time (although you have to admit, it sure looks like fun when you see scouts running around in shorts and muddy boots in the parks on the weekends).
Sunbeams is holding a free 'sprouting' workshop for anyone interested in learning how to sprout their own seeds
and beans for tasty, fresh and nutritious food that is easy to make at home.
Wednesday, 09 February 2011, 09:15 - 10:30
The workshop wil be held at:
International Montessori School,
Sunbeams Nature Workshop - Birds in Winter
30. January, 13.00h - 16.00h,
For children aged 7 and up.
Learn how to identify birds that stay during the winter and how to attract them to your garden, nature walk with winter bird survey.
More information: www.lokilino.com
Sunbeams has written a series of articles to celebrate the International Year of Biodiversity.
Join us to make small steps for biodiversity around us.
Sunbeams articles on what you can do for biodiversity:
- main areas to do small steps - Sunbeams Newsletter May 2009 ( pdf 590Kb)
- small steps advice by IUCN - Sunbeams Newsletter January 2010 ( pdf 1.1Mb)
Sunbeams articles on biodiversity in Away Magazine:
- Interview with IUCN representative, by Leanne Halewyck [Jan-Feb 2010]
- Permaculture, by Dave Meyer [Mar-Apr 2010]
- You and me and biodiversity, by Ilke [May-June 2010] (available here soon )
Sunbeams article in Small Talk (BCT):
Celebrating biodiversity with children [June 2010] (available here soon)
Sunbeams Events related to biodiversity:
- 4 Workshops for children on nature and wildlife (as from October 2010)
- Annual workshop for adults on wildlife in Belgium (fall)
- Annual tree planting event (spring)
- Annual composting event (May-June)
- Build a herb spiral together with Sunbeams in your commune
- Guided nature walk in Zoniënwoud/Forêt de Soignes (in the fall)
Other events focusing on biodiversity:
- Natuurpunt needs your help to count biodiversity in your garden, weekend of 22-23 May 2010 www.waarnemingen.be
- EU Green Week, 2-5 June 2010
- Environmental Party outdoor in Jubelpark/Cinquantenaire, 6 June 2010 (come and see us at the Sunbeams stand)
Useful links can be found in all teh above articles, and here are a few more:
Check out the activities at the Museum of Natural Sciences and their focus on Biodiversity
Order a little booklet with 366 ideas on what you can do for biodiversity in Dutch:
or in French:
More Sunbeams articles relating to specific areas of biodiversity:
- Biodiversity (!)
- Composting - April 2009
- Organic food baskets in and around Brussels - Sunbeams Newsletter September 2009 ( pdf 517Kb)
- How and when to plant trees in Belgium - Sunbeams Newsletter October 2009 (pdf 760Kb)
- Gardening for wildlife [Sunbeams Newsletter November 2009 ( pdf 560Kb)
- Saving energy - Sunbeams Newsletter December 2009 ( pdf 500 Kb)
- Precycling - Sunbeams Newsletter February ( pdf 600 Kb) and March ( pdf 1.0Mb) 2010
- Bees and biodiversity - Sunbeams Newsletter March 2010 ( pdf 1.0Mb)
- How to build a Herb Spiral - Sunbeams Newsletter March 2010 ( pdf 1.0Mb)
- Nature Nook, a new series on nature - starting in Sunbeams Newsletter May 2010
This article was originally published in the January 2010 issue of the Away Magazine.
In our series on biodiversity, we will focus on bees this time. There are two major groups of bees: the honeybees, whom we all know, living in big communities and the solitary bees, less known and with a big variety of species (more on them later).
As you might know, all bees are crucial for humans, because they pollinate: if bees were extinct, it would take human kind another 4 years to disappear as well. The problem is we do not know where the tipping point is in the declining numbers among bees we see today. Even the causes are not always clear. Recent studies show that the general loss of biodiversity is a main factor, the excessive use of chemicals and climate change have all been mentioned in this regard. Hopeful news is reaching us, like the French government announcing a large scale project to plant wild flowers, the thriving of bees in towns, and the raised interest in beehive associations. There are also things you can do!