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Wildlife and Outdoors

The importance of wildlife gardening

Wildlife gardening involves gardening with the intention of encouraging animals and insects into our gardens. In the UK, around 80% of heathland and 70% of UK ancient woodland has been lost since the 1800s, and around 97% of wildflower meadows have been lost since the 1930s. With natural habitat disappearing drastically, our wildlife is struggling to survive. Habitat loss has contributed greatly to the 133 species have gone extinct in the UK since the 1500s. Today around 25% of UK mammals are at risk of imminent extinction.

It’s really important to make our domesticated environments somewhere UK wildlife can thrive too! Together, our gardens are a vast living landscape and can make a big difference to our natural world. There’s lots of information online about what we can all do from building a pond to going peat free. Find out more from the Royal Horticultural Society or The Wildlife Trusts.

Volunteering

Support charities

  • British Hedgehog Preservation Society: A registered UK charity dedicated to protecting hedgehogs, funding rescue centres and educating about Hedgehog conservation.
  • Royal Society for Protection of Birds: A nature conservation charity, dedicated to the conservation of birds, including species recovery, wildlife projects and rehabilitation of natural environments.
  • Bumblebee Conservation Trust: a charity working towards increasing quantity of bumblebees, quality of bumblebee habitat and enhancing understanding of bumblebee ecology and conservation.
  • Bite Back: a UK based shark and marine conservation charity, dedicated to tackling shark slaughter and over fishing
  • Marine Conservation Society: a charity focused upon restoring the health of our oceans, including fighting plastic pollution, beach littering, overfishing
  • Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust: a charity focused upon the preservation of wetlands, which provide important habitats for many endangered species

Wildlife gardening tips

Ditch pesticides: Some pesticides have been banned in the UK, but pesticides that are legal can still damage wildlife. Pesticides tend to spread further than the area used, for instance harming birds and hedgehogs when eating insects that have come into contact with pesticides. There’s plenty of ways you can keep your garden healthy without using pesticides.

Plant wildlife friendly seeds: Gardener’s World has some great recommendations of the flowers and seeds you can plant that are best for different species! Planting native flowers helps, as a lot of British wildflowers have been lost to urbanisation and deforestation.

Provide hedgehog houses and bug hotels: By putting Hedgehog houses in your garden, you’ll be providing hedgehogs a safe place to hibernate and shelter! Bug hotels encourage bugs into your garden, providing a safe space for them to breed. And the more bugs you have in your garden, the more birds and animals, who eat these bugs, will follow!

Link up your garden: making small holes in your fence helps link up habitats for wildlife.

Wildlife gardening in student accommodation

Make use of storage boxes: If you have no grass in your garden, you can still support wildlife by buying plants in pots or planting in plastic containers! Make use of any old storage containers you have lying around, fill with soil, and plants, vegetable seeds, bulbs - anything you like!

Put out bird feed: Bird feeders are cheap to buy and can be hung anywhere in your garden - from a tree branch to a nail sticking out of your fence! Birds like spots as high up as possible, to be as far away from predators. Make sure to dispose of seeds that get wet, and replace with dry food, and replace water with clean water in dishes regularly.

Make a herb box: Herbs are cheap to buy from supermarkets and easy to look after! You can grow these indoors, on a windowsill - perfect if you don’t have a garden

Buy a window box: This attaches easily to any windows on any outside windowsill. Plant flowers and plants to attract bees, butterflies and other wildlife into your garden!

Useful links and apps

iNaturalist - helps you idenitfy the plants and animals around you. By recording and sharing your observations, you'll create research quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature.

Seek by iNaturalist - use the power of image recognition technology to identify the plants and animals around you.

iRecord Butterflies - an app to guide you through the identification of any butterfly that you see in the UK.

British Trees - A Woodland Trust app to identify the UK's native and non-native trees.

Big Hedgehog Map - see how many hedgehogs have been sighted in your area, and log your own sightings #HedgehogFriendlyCampus

UN Sustainable Development Goals - Find out more about the 17 UN SDGs and the targets beneath them.