Biodiversity is the term used to describe the beauty and complexity of the living world. From the large to the small and from the rare to the commonplace, biodiversity encompasses all living things. Humans have had an observable impact on the landscape and environment for thousands of years, however, during the last one hundred years the rate of change has increased at an unprecedented rate and much of our biodiversity is under threat as a direct result of the way we live.
We can all play a part by encouraging wildlife in our gardens
Encouraging birds, mammals and insects to visit and live in your garden helps to look after wildlife, keeps valuable green spaces thriving and can help to control garden pests by encouraging natural predators. All gardens, large and small can be made more wildlife friendly.
- Providing wildlife shelters in your garden
Creating spaces for wildlife to live and nest in is one way of making animals feel at home in your garden. Creating variety helps provide habitats for different animals. Insects in particular help keep your garden healthy - they pollinate plants, eat other insects and provide food for birds.
- leaving rotting logs in a corner of your garden can make a home for hedgehogs and insects
- drilling holes in pruned branches and logs provides insects with shelter and nesting space
- wildlife thrives when it isn't disturbed, so if possible have an area of your garden that you just leave alone - overgrown areas can provide places for animals such as hedgehogs or even foxes to rest or hibernate
- bird and bat boxes encourage creatures to nest and rest in your garden.
- Create a pond
Ponds are a magnet for wildlife, attracting frogs, toads, newts, dragonflies and other insects, as well as providing water for birds - and they're surprisingly easy to create. If you haven't got much space, you could even use an old sink or bath.
- Do feed the animals
- attract birds to your garden by offering them food using feeders and tables - make sure you keep these away from places that cats can get to, or put them near prickly bushes to deter furry predators
- clean bird tables regularly and don't leave food out to rot
- keep feeding regularly - birds come to rely on the food you provide and can suffer if they waste energy flying to find food that isn't there
- choose plants that flower and produce seeds or fruit at different times of the year, so that insects, birds and animals can have food in all seasons
- birds need to bathe frequently to keep their feathers in trim so even a small bird bath can be hugely valuable for attracting birds.
- Plan your plants with wildlife in mind
Think about wildlife when buying your plants, or deciding what you will let grow in your garden - choose ones that attract and sustain a variety of insects and animals. For example:
- sunflower seeds provide food for birds once the flowers have died
- lavender attracts bees
- buddleia is great for butterflies and bees
- moths will come to red valerian, honeysuckle and night-flowering stock
- native ivy is one of the best wildlife plants of all, benefiting birds, mammals, butterflies, bees, hoverflies and other useful insects.
- Only use pesticides as a last resort
Pesticides, which are designed to kill and control pests, weeds and fungi, can also kill or deter the wildlife you want to attract to your garden - including the natural helpers that eat pests, so:
- try to avoid using chemicals wherever possible
- make sure pesticides or hazardous chemicals from paints and finishes don't get into ponds as they can poison water life.
- Control your cat
Give birds a chance by putting several bells on your cat's collar. This should give birds warning of your pet's approach. Multiple bells are best because some cats can learn to move silently with just one bell on their collars.