Let’s end the war on wildlife.
‘Between 1970 and 2013, 56% of UK species declined. Of the nearly 8,000 species assessed using modern criteria, 15% are threatened with extinction. This suggests that we are among the most nature-depleted countries in the world.
Of the 218 countries assessed for ‘biodiversity intactness’, the UK is ranked 189, a consequence of centuries of industrialisation, urbanisation and overexploitation of our natural resources.’
– State of Nature Report, 2016
Our wildlife needs us – and it needs you more than ever.
It’s easy to imagine that ‘they’ will fix the environment. But ‘they’ won’t, whoever ‘they’are. We need to do it – me and you. Together we are stronger. Together we can make a difference.
Today, Chris Packham launched The People’s Manifesto for Wildlife. This blog post is sourced entirely from the manifesto which makes a series of recommendations to the fields of Education; Wildlife and Animal Welfare; Wildlife Crime, Law, and Protection; Farming; UK Statutory Conservation Agencies; and Rewildling. It also makes recommendations, on amongst many other things: trees, hedgerows and verges, and urban spaces.
Urban space for wildlife is the domain of Orchard Park Wildlife Project. And urban spaces CAN be some of the most biologically diverse habitats in the country.
Access to nature is a human need – central to the quality of our most fundamental physiological requirements (water, air, food), as well as our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
The manifesto states that:
“Urban areas can be some of the most biologically diverse habitats in the country. Gardens and parks – comprising lawn, shrubs and flowering plants – provide food and shelter for a huge array of wildlife. And yet these spaces are disappearing from our towns and cities.
In a report published in 2016, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) said the percentage of front gardens lost to paving, concrete or gravel had risen to 24%, from just 8% in 20051 . The results, based on a poll of 1,492 people, suggested that more than 4.5 million of Great Britain’s front gardens were entirely paved, while 7.2 million were mostly paved. Another report, published by London Wildlife Trust in 2011, compared aerial surveys of London taken in 1998 and 2006. It found that domestic gardens (both front and back) made up nearly 24 per cent of the London’s total area, but that in those eight years nearly two thirds of its front gardens had been covered with hard surfaces, while the amount of green space in back gardens had shrunk, largely due to the popularity of garden offices2 . “An area of vegetated garden equivalent to 21 times the size of Hyde park was lost between 1998 and 2006,” said the author of the report, Chloë Smith. That’s an average of two Hyde Parks per year (and a further 14 Hyde Parks since 2011).”
It goes on to say “We need legislation to re-wild our urban spaces.”
We are lucky in Orchard Park that many of the recommendations in the manifesto are already realised:
many of our fences are hedgehog friendly, we have bird nesting boxes on some of our homes, municipal planting includes many native species, and we have open green spaces.
However, there are recommendations that show there is much more we can do:
- We can ensure that no more than 10% of our gardens are turned over to paving, decking and fake-turfing
- We can make gardens more hedgehog friendly
- We can add more nest boxes in addition to those already built into our homes – if you live in a house or flat, install swift or bat boxes by the eaves.
- Where space permits, plant a small tree or shrub in your garden
- Do home composting
- We need to ensure our small pockets of green for the community are maintained in as a wildlife friendly a way as possible, and look after our trees
- If we can find a suitable location, create a communal wildlife pond
- Create ‘pop up habitats’ in the few as yet undeveloped plots – sprinkle pesticide free wildflower seeds
- Keep cats in at night – this can reduce overall predation by up to 50%, and fit them will a collar and bell – this can also reduce bird predation by 50%
- If you have a garden, stop using pesticides – weedkillers, ant sprays, slug pellets.
- Liberate your lawn, let some grass grow long, leave piles of sticks in corners for invertebrates, sow native wild flowers for pollinators, feed garden birds, erect bee and bird boxes
- Dig a pond – even a washing-up bowl-sized pond will boost biodiversity
- Connect with nature through what you eat. Grow some food – rocket and tomatoes in window boxes; cucumbers, runner beans, raspberries, blackberries. Home-grown tastes amazing
- Volunteer with OPWP to look after and enhance what we have, lets make Orchard Park better for people and wildlife
- Join OPWP on it’s surveys, and safaris, you’ll be surprised to see what lives here if you look
The full, referenced, manifesto can be downloaded here: http://www.chrispackham.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/A-Peoples-Manifesto-for-Wildlife-expanded.pdf
The illustrated manifesto can be downloaded here: http://www.chrispackham.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Peoples-Manifesto-Download.pdf