Biodiversity is the WOW factor or Wealth of Wildlife that exists on our planet. It is all the plants and animals that surround us, both everyday in our towns and countryside or in more exotic locations such as our oceans.
Green areas in our towns and cities are as valuable to us as they are the to the wildlife that live there. They give us places to relax, enjoy nature, escape the pressures of urban living, grow food and flowers and improve the look and feel of our local surroundings. Ensuring our native wildlife and their habitats thrive throughout towns and countryside means we can continue to enjoy it and that the delicate balance between many habitats and species that depend on each other is maintained.
There are many ways you can do this as part of a community project:
Trees and shrubs - these are excellent homes and food sources for all types of wildlife. You may decide to include them in your project in a variety of ways; community orchards, hazel/willow coppices, community woodland, specimen trees or hedging. Use native species as these provide the best homes and food sources for the widest number of birds, insects and animals. You may like to start a project to grow some of the plants you need from seed.
- ponds can be a huge asset on a community project, providing a relaxing focus to a project site, an educational resource and a vital resource for wildlife, providing a secure source of water as well as a home and breeding ground for frogs, newts, toads and many insects including the gorgeous dragonflies.
Grassland - grasslands and wildflower meadows are a great way to turn that untidy piece of grassland into a real gem as well as being great for attracting bumble bees and butterflies.
Composting - gardening is the major threat to remaining peat bogs. Composting garden waste is one way you can get a plentiful supply of rich and fertile compost, ideal for 'boosting blooms', without harming peat bogs. Compost can be surprisingly easy to make: just gather uncooked kitchen waste, clippings and cuttings from the garden into a heap, newspaper and cardboard can also be used. If you have any questions about composting or you would like a visit to help set up your own composting scheme you can contact our Home Composting Team on 0845 0500110
Birds - numbers of many of Britain's garden birds (including once common ones such as the House Sparrow) have declined. Changes in farming practice, the way we live (using cars rather than horses means less cereal around for birds to feed on) and an increase in land being used for industry and housing have all lead to a drop in sources of food and nesting sites. There are lots of ways that community projects can help wild birds from putting up feeding stations and nest boxes to planting areas of shrubs and trees for them to nest and forage for food in.
Bats - bats are one of our most fascinating and easily seen night-time animals. The are 15 species of British bat all of which feed on insects - one pipestrelle bat (our smallest native bat) can eat up to 3,000 small insect in one night. Bats can usually be seen hunting along the edge of warm sheltered areas between woods, groups or lines of trees or shrub thickets and over water, where insects gather. Loss of habitat from changes in farming practices and development (including an increase in the amount of chemicals and insulation we use in the fabric of our homes) has put all of our bat species under pressure. Community projects can do a lot to help bats by providing bat boxes and places they can hunt for food.
Snakes and Lizards - Britain has three native species of lizard and three species of snakes. They are fascinating and secretive animals which can often be overlooked and misunderstood; in reality they are very shy and seldom venture out when they can be seen. Many of these reptiles, such as slow worms or sand lizards, have declined in number because their habitat has been fragmented or destroyed. Reptiles use a number of habitats from ponds and grassland to hunt in to rocks and rubble piles to sunbathe on and wood piles or compost heaps to hibernate in.
Bees - Over the past seventy years, many kinds of bumblebees have become increasingly scarce; and two species have become extinct. Those species which have remained commonplace have been able to use gardens to provide part of their habitat. Bumblebees are not aggressive and do not sting unless they feel threatened, such as by being handled roughly or accidentally caught underfoot or in clothing. When first accosted they are more likely to roll over on their backs and wave their legs at you. Unlike social wasps and honey bees who have a thousand or more workers, a bumblebee colony only has one or two hundred. Pollen and nectar from many different garden plants are used by bumblebees to feed themselves and their young. To provide the perfect environment for bumblebees in your garden it is important to ensure that the flowering times of suitable plants cover the whole bumblebee season from March to August. The greater the number of suitable flowering plants in your garden, the better it will please bumblebees.
Wood Piles - you can easily create a wood pile by taking untreated logs or pieces of wood and stacking them together in a quiet place. Habitat piles like this also benefit other wildlife such as beetles (stag beetles lay their eggs in wood piles), hedgehogs and amphibians (who may hibernate in them as well as forage for food). Wood piles are also great places for fungi to grow.