RSPB launch 3-step summer action plan in response to heatwave’s impact on wildlife

Becca Smith

Thursday 14 July 2022

The RSPB has released a 3-step summer action plan for UK gardeners and wildlife enthusiasts to help the nature on their doorsteps during the heatwave.

With summer temperatures set to rise over the coming days, the UK’s largest conservation charity, the RSPB, is calling for people across the UK look out for wildlife by providing water and other simple measures in their garden or greenspace.

The charity has released 3 simple steps that gardeners and wildlife enthusiasts can take to help their feathered friends as well as invertebrates, amphibians and even hedgehogs over the coming weeks. According to their 3-step summer action plan the top ways you can help wildlife this summer are:

Step 1: Providing fresh water
Water is scarce in a heatwave so giving wildlife a much-needed drink or bath is the perfect way to help. Whether from a bird bath, pond or shallow dish, any water you put out is likely to be greatly received, not only by birds but hedgehogs, butterflies and invertebrates too. Adding a few stones to the edge of your water source can help ensure that butterflies and other flying visitors can perch while they drink, as well as allowing easy access for creatures such as hedgehogs, frogs and toads.

Step 2: Create shady spots
From birds taking refuge in hedges and dense shrubs, to longer grass giving butterflies and other insects shelter from the heat, overgrown areas in your garden can provide respite for wildlife. Why not leave the lawn to grow a little longer this summer, or take it one step further and allow leaf piles to build up or construct a bug hotel to allow amphibians and invertebrates to make use of  these cooler damp areas in the future.

Step 3: Keep up with bird feeder hygiene
In the heat of summer, it is harder for birds such as blackbirds to find worms and other minibeasts living in the ground because it is so hard. Instead of rushing to fill your feeder to the brim however, the trick is to put out food little and often because the warm weather could turn it rotten more quickly.

It’s also important to not let old food or dirty water build up, to reduce the spread of diseases such as Trichomonosis through contaminated bird feeders and baths. The RSPB advises giving your feeder a clean once a week with soapy water and emptying your bird bath daily.

Following the extreme heat warning issued by the Met Office earlier this week, RSPB staff and volunteers have also been hard at work across the charity’s nature reserves responding to the heatwave. From closely monitoring water levels across their delicate wetland habitats to providing shadier spots and plenty of water to their conservation grazing livestock, the charity are ensuring that their nature reserves continue to be a refuge for the UK’s wildlife.

Alongside their work, the charity is urging members of the public to take all litter home with them and think twice about lighting up a disposable BBQ in the countryside, as the risk of fire increases across heathland habitats and beyond.

Talking of the growing impact that changes to our temperatures are having on UK wildlife and nature reserves, the RSPB’s Conservation Programmes Director, Jo Gilbert, said: “Heatwaves like this are a stark reminder that climate change is already having an impact, not only on the way we live but on our wildlife too.

As hotter temperatures seem all the more likely in the coming years, nature reserves, as refuges for a rich array of wildlife, are having to adapt and plan for the growing effect climate change will have on nature conservation.

From adapting to the decreasing availability of freshwater during heatwaves like this, to protecting our coastal reserves from sea level rise and maintaining a variety of habitats that are being lost elsewhere, climate change is having a real impact on people, landscapes and wildlife right here in the UK. That’s why we need urgent action from the governments of the UK to protect, restore and invest in solutions to fight the Nature and Climate Emergency.”

For more tips and tricks on how to help the nature on your doorstep this summer and beyond, visit:

Image: Ray Kennedy

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