With the UK’s decline in biodiversity now widely documented, it’s never been clearer that wildlife needs our help. 41% of Britain’s wildlife species have declined since 1970, and more than one in ten are now facing extinction.
Whilst intensive farming practices are considered the main threat to biodiversity, our own efforts at home can add up to make a big difference, providing a network of connected habitats and food sources that are vital for Britain’s wildlife to thrive.
Around 87% of UK households have a garden - together, this amounts to over 10 million acres, which is larger than all of Britain’s nature reserves combined! So, making your garden more nature-friendly can have a huge impact on supporting wildlife.
Quick changes to make to your garden more wildlife-friendly
We all have unique spaces at home, so everyone’s approach to ‘ecological gardening’ will differ.
Some may reserve a special corner for wildlife, whilst others might try making their whole garden nature-friendly, especially if you’ve got the blank canvas of a new home.
Either way, a few ‘quick wins’ can help make most gardens better for wildlife:
1. Let your lawn grow – leaving a section of long grass in your garden is one of the most simple and effective changes to help wildlife. Long grass provides a home for nesting butterflies and allows wildflowers to flourish, which provide nectar for bees and other pollinators
2. Phase out your use of pesticides - ‘Pesticides’ are the group of chemicals designed to kill insects and other pests such as weeds (herbicides). Recent studies on the biodiversity crisis name the impacts of pesticides as key drivers, so reducing application of these chemicals in our gardens is a brilliant quick win for wildlife
3. Hedgehog holes – access to a connected and continuous selection of habitats is one of the biggest barriers facing our wildlife, particularly roaming mammals like hedgehogs. If your garden is bordered with fences, liaise with neighbours to negotiate some hedgehog holes – small gaps cut into fences which will allow wildlife to pass from garden to garden
4. Boxes, baths and feeders for birds – a classic quick fix for attracting wildlife to your garden, this combination can provide an important habitat and food source for nesting birds. Make sure to keep them clean and steer clear of ‘pretty’ bird boxes made of ceramic or metal. These can cause changes in temperature and humidity which are dangerous for baby birds, so it’s best to stick to wooden boxes to ensure birds are kept safe
5. Insect hotels – this is another great option that’s suitable for gardens of all shapes and sizes. Insect hotels provide a refuge for all kinds of creatures, from bees and beetles, to spiders. As with bird boxes, do some research before buying – the most attractive looking boxes may not be the most appropriate for the animals you’re looking to protect!
6. Water source & ponds – adding a water source to your garden can make a huge difference for wildlife – it’s one of the most common changes agroecological farmers make to their land when they look to boost biodiversity too. Even a small body of water makes a big difference, so if you don’t have a pond, consider a ‘container pond’ – made with a sunken bucket, pot or trough.
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