The UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world and despite nature struggling against all odds to survive, more than one in seven native species face extinction and over 40% are in decline.
This, coupled with the recent news from the IPCC that we are heading towards a global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees(c), means we could see biodiversity loss rise by a further 14%.
Gareth Mitchell, founder of Manchester based Tree2MyDoor, who has long recognised the importance of providing havens for wildlife, has given his advice on small steps to make at home which can help stave nature decline.
Gareth said, “The recent IPCC report is really alarming. We know that climate change affects both people and wildlife in all corners of the world but it is really important to remember that there are many small steps which collectively can go a long way in helping nature to thrive at home.
“Research has shown that those who adopted wildlife-friendly practices such as planting native shrubs and flowers, or digging a wildlife pond, saw more birds than those who did not. And with the gardens in the UK covering over 400,000 hectares, there has never been a better time to adopt some wildlife-friendly practices to your gardening routine.”
Native trees and plants are a very important part of our overall ecosystem. Never underestimate the power of adding more native varieties to your garden. As more exotic trees and plants become accessible it’s desirable to want to add them to your collection, some non-native species have been known to become invasive and end up harming more than helping.
As an ecosystem, your garden and wildlife within will benefit from native varieties. They are more naturally suited to our climate and weather conditions and provide a vital source of food and shelter to many UK animal species.
If you have space and are able, ponds are a fantastic way of bringing new and interesting wildlife to the garden, as they provide shelter, water, and a safe location for reproduction and are among the most unique, biodiverse, and sensitive ecosystems. No matter how large or small your garden pond, it can have the chance to play a critical role in the survival of countless species and provide benefits that extend far beyond your own garden.
Beneficial for you, your garden and the wildlife. You can put fresh food waste in the compost to create a home for worms, woodlice and many others. The compost will enrich your garden allowing you to grow even more beautiful trees and plants to attract more wonderful wildlife.
Trees and plants that bloom early spring are important for very early pollinators. Varieties such as magnolia trees and flowering cherry trees are the perfect options. While we see many bees in the garden in summer, there are a few that come out of hibernation in early spring along with some species of beetle that will enjoy stopping off in your garden for a quick drink.
Adding one or two small flowering trees to your garden will provide early pollinators with much-needed nectar for the season ahead.
Wildflower gardens are heaven-sent for bees, butterflies and other pollinators as they provide food throughout the year. On a single day in summer, one acre of wildflower meadow can contain 3 million flowers, producing 1 kg of nectar sugar. That's enough to support nearly 96,000 honey bees per day.
Long grass is an underestimated way of providing much-needed shelter and food for various animals and other critters. Towards the end of summer leave your grass to grow slightly longer and then plan to cut it in spring. Keep an eye out for any large mammals that may be hiding between the blades of grass so as to not cause injury when mowing.
For those without space for a pond, instead, try creating an insect or bug hotel. Usually made from wood and bamboo twigs this will keep beneficial insects in the garden giving them a safe place to go. Building a bug hotel in your garden can provide a safe hideaway for wildlife and help make use of your garden waste. A well-built hotel can shelter anything from hedgehogs to toads, solitary bees to bumblebees, and ladybirds to woodlice.