If you enjoy spending time outdoors and in your garden, you’re most likely aware of the fact that our native wildlife is in decline. You’ve probably seen news stories about rapid declines in bee populations, vanishing meadow land and over-tidy gardens discouraging wildlife visitors. A recent research study by 25 wildlife organisations found that in the past 50 years, two thirds of our plant and animal species have seen declines – quite a bleak picture isn’t it?
Loss of habitat is one of the key factors in this decline of UK wildlife, and so the RHS and The Wildlife Trusts have joined forces on the Wild About Gardens campaign. The campaign encourages people to support local biodiversity by making their gardens and community green spaces more wildlife friendly, and culminates in the annual Wild About Gardens week event.
This year’s campaign is also partnered by Hedgehog Street and focuses in particular on helping to save the hedgehog. Hedgehog numbers have fallen by 30 percent in just over ten years and there are now thought to be fewer than 1 million left in the UK. One of the main reasons for this decline is our garden fences and walls becoming more secure. I bet you didn’t know that these little creatures travel about a mile every night, looking for food and a mate – so lots of impenetrable gardens is really bad news for them. By making small holes in or under our garden fences and walls, we will allow hedgehogs the access they need. It doesn’t need to be a big hole either; just 13cm square will do it. You can download a template for the correct-sized hole here.
There are lots of other things you can do to help hedgehogs in your garden, such as encouraging insects they like to eat and providing a suitable place for them to hibernate and nest. The Wild About Gardens team have produced a brilliant booklet full of information and ideas which you can view and download. You can also visit the hedgehog street website for lots of ideas on ways you can help.
Wild About Gardens week runs from 26th October to 1st November this year and as well as focusing on saving the hedgehog, there are lots of resources available to help you encourage other wildlife in your garden. Turning your garden into a desirable home for wildlife doesn’t have to be complicated, time-consuming or expensive – it can be as simple as creating a log pile home for bugs, leaving seedheads on plants to provide a food source, or choosing plants that are a great source of nectar for pollinating insects. Check out the Wild About Gardens website for lots more great ideas.
As well as doing your bit at home for wildlife, there are lots of events running during Wild About Gardens week which you can get involved with. You can organise your own event to encourage your local community to help wildlife in their gardens, or join in with your nearest event via the what’s on page. You can also follow the hashtag #WildAboutGardens on twitter throughout the week, there’ll be lots of tips and ideas for simple things you can do which will have a big impact.
Encouraging wildlife to visit our gardens and make a home there is beneficial on so many levels. We’ll be helping our native species to thrive and, in some cases, survive; our garden will be healthier as a result; and it’s a fantastic way to get the kids involved and interested in the great outdoors on their doorstep. Have I convinced you to make a change in your garden to help our native wildlife? I hope so.