Natural History Museum: Nature in Lockdown

Natural History Museum: Nature in Lockdown


Natural History Museum releases infographics on the influence of Covid-19 on the movement of people, air and noise pollution and wildlife sightings in the UK

In collaboration with data visualisation company, Beyond Words Studio, the Natural History Museum documented the environmental benefits of Covid-19 to use as part of their Nature in Lockdown public engagement initiative. A dramatic decrease in air pollution and noise levels, was shown to influence bird and animal sightings. The initiative seeks to discover the three most interesting environmental impacts of Covid-19 through crowdsourcing. 

In the first 100 days of lockdown, the number of wildlife sightings rose 54% compared to the same period last year. Bats sightings soared the highest along with moths and butterflies. The humble house sparrow, starling and collared dove were the most frequently seen birds, linked to an increase in time spent in gardens and parks as opposed to the nature reserves, which were shut. Whilst sightings of birds that thrive in wetlands such as Avocets and Marsh Harriers plummeted.

Air pollution was significantly reduced by the dramatic decline in journeys over lockdown which dropped 82% in the first month of lockdown. The Atmospheric Observatory (BTTAO) on top of the BT Tower in central London found that carbon dioxide emissions dropped by 60% during lockdown. Seismologists measuring the UK’s vibrations to monitor noise pollution levels detected up to a 50% drop in the first three weeks of lockdown. As animals of all kinds are acutely sensitive to noise pollution, this explains the reintroduction of bird song in cities. 

The Natural History Museum’s Executive Director of Engagement, Clare Matterson, shed light on “how we noticed and experienced nature in a new and different way” through lockdown, which is clearly demonstrated by the Beyond World Studio visualisations.

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