GIVING nature a home has become one of the most important conservations of our age.

In an age of constant environmental issues the RSPB’s battle cry to overcome the “housing crisis” being faced by Britain’s wildlife is being heard the length and breadth of the country – with spectacular results.

Whether it’s providing shelter or supplementary feeding, hundreds of thousands of families are now trying to help birds, mammals and mini-beasts.

Meadow Gardens in Action

If we want to see our gardens heaving with nature and wildlife there are lots of things we can do, from planting to maintenance, in order to make them feel as welcome as possible.  

Wildlife can make its home in our gardens in many different ways.

Even the smallest of gardens can offer up a huge variety of different habitats for wildlife. There are lots of ways we can introduce, or let nature create, a diverse range of homes for nature in our garden spaces.

It’s good to create as many habitats as possible without cramming too much in. Think about the space you have available and focus on making these microhabitats as good as they can be.

You may not even realise that some of the most common unassuming garden features can house thriving worlds of wildlife.

Lawns for example, especially areas of un-cut long grass, are an important habitat for all sorts of insects and minibeasts, not to mention a feasting ground for the hungry birds which feed on them.

Borders, filled with flowering plants and shrubs, give nectar rich food to butterflies and bees, as well as seeds, berries and cover for birds and small mammals.

Trees, and hedges offer roosting and nesting sites for birds and mammals, as well as valuable shelter and cover from the elements and possible predators.

Ponds and water features can be a habitat for a huge variety of animal life, from amphibians and invertebrates to bathing garden birds.

Another essential feature of a wildlife friendly garden is a variety of places for the different animal residents to forage and feed. 

Of course, we can provide food for some of them, such as birds and hedgehogs, but there are lots of ways which we can help nature provide too.

A range of plants which flower and seed at varied times throughout the year, will provide food for the animals and insects that are active and feeding over different periods.

Berry bushes and fruit trees will give another source of valuable and irresistible seasonal food. Ivy is a great source of autumn nectar for insects and late winter fruit for birds.

An array of colourful nectar-rich flowers will attract bees, wasps, butterflies and other insects.

If you create a garden which is full of minibeasts and insects, you’re also providing wealthy feeding ground for insect-eating birds, grub-hungry chicks and minibeast-eating mammals like hedgehogs and bats!

A source or clean safe water is as important as food, whether it’s a larger pond or a small dish.

One of the best things you can do to help butterflies and moths, is to make sure their caterpillars have the right plants to feed on. A variety of different host plants will attract a more varied range of butterflies and caterpillars.

Even woodpiles, compost and trimmings, the decomposing and discarded off-cuts from your garden, can be incredible places for animals to live, feed and hibernate.

Big Garden Birdwatch

The results from the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, the biggest citizen science survey of its kind,
has helped people better understand what is happening in the greater countryside.

In short, the 2021 RSPB survey showed blue tits climbing to second place in the table of most seen garden birds, their highest ever position, while blackbirds dropped to fourth. 

Robins and great tits also went down a place each and, conversely, great spotted woodpeckers made it into the top twenty for the first time.

Goldfinches also continue to edge up the table year-on-year. 

When the survey began in the late Seventies, they barely featured. In 2021 they were the seventh most observed species.

The effort made by nature lovers in putting out food is obviously having results. 

Goldfinches, and great spotted woodpeckers have shown they are species that readily come to garden feeders. 

Defend our Green Belt

Without large scale sustainable development, infill development sees urban green space lost.

A chronic housing shortage with inadequate new settlements and/or extension of those outside of the green belt and/or no green belt reduction has seen many brownfield sites, often well-suited to industry and commerce, lost in existing conurbations.

However, by the Government’s own admission, there are currently more than 700,000 empty homes in England, with 270,000 them having remained vacant for more than six months.

With that knowledge one can only conclude that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) reforms are not only a ridiculous state of affairs and beg the question about corruption at the highest levels of national and local government.

Tragically, while there are those supporting the nationwide crusade to protect our natural heritage, developers are clamouring to convert our green spaces into concrete jungles.

Yes, building on our Green Belt land is seen as the panacea to the UK Government’s needs because it is cheap, easy and delivers a handsome return to developers who are all wise to one of Mark Twain’s greatest witticisms:

“Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.”

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England is critical of the Government, warning its planning reforms are..

“Unnecessarily damaging the countryside and undermining local democracy while failing to prioritise the reuse of brownfield land and regeneration of urban areas.”

In their research they found that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) reforms are forcing councils to accept major developments against their will.

And this applies to all parts of the country, with plans for more than 700,000 houses in our countryside, including 200,000 allocated for the Green Belt.

Some of the less obvious results leave deep-seated concerns about what is happening in the greater countryside.

And Finally

Every day we are hearing more and more about rising sea levels, more extreme weather events, the loss of biodiversity and climate change.

The natural world is breaking down and yet destructive industries continue to threaten our forests, oceans and even the very air that we breath. (see Ban Chemtrails in the UK)

However we can overcome these challenges.

If you are passionate about protecting our environment and are looking for ways to enhance your garden habitat for local wildlife, then try following the principles of permaculture in order to make it a beautiful place where both you and nature can flourish.

In doing so you will create a natural oasis of calm and tranquillity.

RIP leaves you now with a tune from John Denver – The Garden Song.

Author: Michael W

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