We rightly condemn the hacking down of our precious rain forests and the estimated loss, globally , of between 10,000 to 100,00 individual species each year . We mourn the staggering loss of wildlife habitats with their rich biodiversity and whose destruction seems to be taking place throughout every corner of the planet .
Yet on our very own doorstep, here in the UK, our precious wildlife habitats including hedgerows, wildflower meadows, ancient woodland , ponds and wetlands are also being degraded and destroyed at an alarming rate.
Large swathes of our once species rich countryside reduced to sterile , poisoned monocultures , hostile to wildlife and bereft of biodiversity.
Increasing urban sprawl including large scale housing, industrial and road developments have also helped to destroy and fragment our precious wildlife habitats and green corridors.
Even the way many of us choose to manage our gardens is inadvertently contributing to the degradation of habitats for many of our indigenous creatures.
This has all had a massive impact on our native wildlife. In the 1950s there were an estimated 30 million hedgehogs thought to be living in the UK. Now there are estimated to only be around 1.5 million.
Our once common songbirds are in serious decline, butterflies, bees and other essential pollinators are similarly in decline.
Our amphibian populations are crashing too with common toads, for example , being estimated to have been reduced in number by around 68% in only 30 years . The list goes on and on.
Its not surprising then, given the magnitude of these ongoing losses , that many of us can be left feeling that we cant make any sort of a difference. That as individuals, there is nothing we can do to help halt or even mitigate the loss of our dwindling wildlife habitats and the wildlife that depends on them.
Yet we can.
There are an estimated 24 million gardens throughout the UK which, when added together , are bigger than the total mass of land reserved for all of our protected nature reserves put together.
Think about that.
Imagine if just a fraction of those gardens were developed in such a way as to offer shelter, food and water for our indigenous wildlife?
Imagine if these small changes could be done in such a way that not only allowed us to continue with the usual “leisurely pursuits” in the garden but that these small changes also helped to make our outdoor space far more interesting, relaxing and enriching as an area in which we to chose to rest and play?
Imagine you could still have your summer BBQ or your early morning coffee on the sunny patio but to a soundtrack of foraging, humming bees and twittering birdsong? The plop of an ice cube into your alfresco glass of prosecco echoed by the soft plop of a frog diving into your new wildlife pond ?
Imagine that you could still grow and eat an abundance of soft and hard fruit with enough apples left over to feed the visiting thrushes, blackbirds and waxwings when your lawn is thick with snow?
Imagine raising the cutting blades on your lawn mower by only a few centimetres and still having a perfectly usable and attractive lawn but one which is now covered in fluttering butterflies feeding on the wild flowers which have now been allowed to emerge from it?
Imagine blue tits swinging, acrobatically , from the birdfeeder outside your kitchen window and knowing they might well be the offspring of the 2 blue tits who raised a brood in that birdbox which you put up earlier in the year? And that the same blue tits who took up residence in the birdbox you put up, fed their chicks on grubs and caterpillars foraged from the small native species hedgerow which you planted the year before?
Imagine if more and more of the people managing the estimated 24 million gardens in the UK also adopted the approach advocated by this blog and by urban wildlife champions such as Chris Packham and Chris Baines ?
Imagine if you did this and that your neighbours, inspired by the easy yet impressive changes you’d made to your own garden, started doing the same?