creating green corridors

It’s not just the people in the community we should be thinking about, wildlife in the garden is essential to Permaculture and organic growing. Not just giving things like hedgehogs the ability to move from garden to garden but if you are trying to garden organic but your nextdoor neighbour sprays chemicals all over, you have a problem.

Town planners should make biodiversity a core consideration
within urban and suburban regeneration plans and purposefully
create ‘green networks’, reveals the Wild About Gardens Discovery
Survey, carried out by The Wildlife Trusts (TWT) and the Royal
Horticultural Society (RHS) in partnership with Ribena.

According to the findings, garden owners are responding to
wildlife gardening advice and taking action but there is still
considerable room for improvement, even among the most
wildlife-friendly gardeners. The survey’s findings that
mini-habitats are spread between different gardens emphasises the
importance of making it easier for wildlife to move within a
connected network of ‘green corridors’ by using trees, ponds and
hedgerows, and providing a greater variety of food sources from
nectar, berry and seed-producing plants.

Simon Thornton-Wood, Director of Science and Learning for the
RHS, explains: “Developers should be careful not to create ‘token
gesture’ green spaces in anticipation they might provide real
benefit for wildlife. From our preliminary findings we looked at
the gardens that recorded sightings of all five of our key
species and found that they nearly all had tall trees, but only a
third shared other important features such as ponds, woodpiles
and long grass. Not everyone, especially those with small
gardens, has the room for the ultimate checklist of features
which means that neighbours need to pull together to help improve
wildlife communities as well as social ones. Individuals who
have created a wildlife oasis in a conservation desert provide a
welcome refuge but its value multiplies when connected to
neighbouring habitats, as last month’s Stern Report touched upon
by calling for greater linkage of ‘green’ habitats to better
accommodate species movement.”

Over 1,500 garden owners responded to the survey between 2 and 17
September to help investigate links between garden habitats,
gardening practices and key garden species. Participants were
asked to complete an inventory of types of plants and features in
their garden including the garden’s location, their gardening
practices, and whether the following species visited their garden
within the two-week survey period: Hedgehog, Goldfinch, Common
Frog, Toad, Bumblebee, and specifically the Brown Bumblebee. The
data is being analysed in depth with more comprehensive findings
to be released next year.

Stephanie Hilborne, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts,
added: “The survey showed whilst wildlife gardeners are busy
supporting the ‘attractive’ species such as birds, hedgehogs and
frogs, they’re not so aware of the need to encourage
invertebrates, with the possible exception of butterflies,
through planting buddleia and sedum. The importance of varying
ground cover and shrubs should not be underestimated in
supporting the less popular ‘creepy crawlies’ which play a vital
role in the food chain and in making gardens effective as
self-sustaining wildlife habitats. These are the sort of
perceptions the RHS and The Wildlife Trusts hope to change
through Wild About Gardens or through http://www.wildaboutgardens.org.”

Other preliminary findings from the survey include:

* Gardens with seed or nut-producing plants were over three
times more likely to attract goldfinches than those with none
(72% compared to 22%).

* Nearly twice as many participants who owned a garden pond
spotted frogs during the survey period than those without.

* Gardens with a larger area of long grass (over four square
metres) were more likely to attract brown bumblebees.

* London gardens recorded the lowest average number of sightings
of hedgehogs and frogs compared to the rest of the UK.

* Toads were found to be in gardens frequented by frogs but
seldom in gardens without frogs (toads were spotted by 25% of
garden owners, frogs by 58%).

(All five key species were chosen due to their decline or
fluctuation in number over the past few years.)

According to the survey, compared to other UK regions, gardens in
the East Midlands were the most wildlife-rich. Gardeners in the
East Midlands scored higher than the UK average for all the six
species bar the brown bumblebee, and sightings of hedgehogs and
goldfinches were highest in the East Midlands. Rachel Shaw,
Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust PR Officer, commented: “Over recent
years gardens in both built-up areas and within areas of
intensive farmland have become increasingly important for
wildlife in Lincolnshire. The survey results are very
encouraging but there is still room for improvement. Gardening
practices which are detrimental to biodiversity, such as the use
of fertilisers and pesticides, and a preference for an
‘over-tidy’ garden, are still all too common. We would also
encourage developers to incorporate wildlife areas and gardens
into new designs.” The recently revised Lincolnshire
Biodiversity Action Plan includes a plan for Gardens and
Allotments which outlines the actions developers and planners can
take to ensure space is provided for wildlife.

For more information and hints and tips on creating a
wildlife-friendly garden, visit http://www.wildaboutgardens.org

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