Climate change is impacting on all of us and the wildlife we love, while negotiators discuss the global response what can you do locally?
Climate crisis one of the drivers of wildlife decline in the UK - here are some ways to give them a refuge in your garden or outdoor space:
Peat, with its ability to soak up carbon like a sponge, takes hundreds of years to form – but digging it up for compost destroys it in a matter of days! There are lots of alternatives available so one simple step you can take to help the planet is to pledge to go peat-free.
If you can go one step further and make your own compost, that’s even better! As well as being the most eco-friendly way to create compost, the compost heaps also provide a home to all manner of invertebrates as well as toads and even grass snakes.
In the 50 years leading up to the 1980s, England and Wales lost 97% of their wildflower meadows. But you can help recreate them in your own garden! You can leave a patch of your garden to become a fully fledged wildflower meadow, or simply pledge to not mow your lawn over the summer to mimic old hay meadows. Every little bit helps though, so if you can simply not mow your lawn until July, or not mow it in June, that will still help lots of wildflowers and pollinators.
As well as bursting with colour, lawns also have the extra bonus of soaking up rainwater. That means less flooding of your street and home, so it’s really a win-win.
A great way to help nature is to make the most of your vertical spaces. Plant trees, add climbers to archways and walls, adorn your doorstep with containers filled with herbs and other plants – there’s a way to adorn any amount of outdoor space, and you’ll be rewarded with hosts of pollinators coming for a meal! As a plus, all that greenery helps to capture carbon.
- Give wildlife a home
Your outdoor space can be home to all hosts of wildlife, even if you don’t have a garden. Nestboxes can be roosts during cold winter months as well as places to raise chicks in the spring, while bee hotels, bat houses, and swift boxes can all be added to walls (just be sure to check which side of your house, tree, or fence post will be best for the different species first).
- Add water
The UK’s freshwater and wetland habitats cover just 3% of the UK’s land, but they support around 10% of the species. These vital homes for nature are being lost, however, with 227,000 ponds lost on farms alone between 1945 and 1998. You can help by adding water to your garden in whatever way you can! Put out a bird bath, make a mud patch for swallows to build their nests, turn an old sink or washing up bowl into a mini pond for frogs and newts, dig a large pond – there’s an option for any space. Adding a water butt to capture water also helps conserve our water resources, adding some climate- and wildlife-friendly points.
- Add a hotel and restaurant to the hedgehog commuting belt
Hedgehog numbers have plummeted in the UK – in the 1950s there were an estimated 30 million, and recent estimates say there are less than a million left. You can help them by putting out a hedgehog home for them to hibernate in or leaving out some water and dog or cat food to supplement their diet. A nice easy win is to put a ‘hedgehog highway’ into your fence by simply cutting a 13x13cm hole for them to walk through, opening up more space for them to find food and water.
Invertebrates, berries, flowers, and fruits are disappearing from the UK, so wildlife will appreciate a calorie boost. The best way is always to plant the food, such as a fruiting bush or a flower that goes to seed, but a good second is to put out food in the form of bird feeders or leftovers. Just make sure the food you’re putting out is safe for the wildlife, and that you clean any feeding stations on a regular basis so they don’t become spreaders of disease.
Many invertebrates are on the decline - moths, butterflies, and ladybirds, for example, have declined by 65-70% over recent decades. One big way you can help is by saying ‘no’ to pesticides - they harm lots of invertebrates you probably weren’t trying to target at all, and then there is a hole in the food chain leaving less food for insect-eating birds, or even insect-eating insects such as ladybirds and lacewings. There are lots of insect-friendly ways to keep the pests away, whether it’s planting a mixture of species so that pests won’t have such a free for all, using plants that deter pests or plants that are attractive to predators to boost their numbers.
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