Nature gives us so much. We can give back to it in our gardens and other urban green spaces
These are the key findings of a report by Bioregional commissioned by B&Q, our long-term partner and the UK’s leading garden centre chain. The report, launched this week in London, is based on an in-depth evidence review which looked at nearly 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers.
Alarmingly, UK wildlife continues to decline even though we have known for 50 years that humans are the main cause of this. But the report shows that our gardens, and even our balconies and front doorsteps, are places where we can fight back for nature. It’s not expensive or time-consuming and it won’t stop us enjoying or using our gardens. Bringing more nature into our backyards will do us good.
The report, The Nature of Gardens, has been reviewed and supported by four leading gardening and nature conservation organisations – The RSPB, the Royal Horticultural Society, The Wildlife Trusts and Butterfly Conservation.
It is published at a time when there are growing concerns about people – especially children – becoming increasingly cut off from nature, potentially making them less likely to want to conserve it. The Nature of Gardens finds that these fears are justified and argues that we should use our gardens to help reverse this trend. If we get closer to nature, we’ll become better wildlife guardians and also fitter, healthier, and happier.
Bioregional chief executive Sue Riddlestone said: “Our gardens have amazing powers to do good for nature and good for us. There is a wealth of evidence for this out there and now we’ve brought it together to make a really strong case. By looking after wildlife and nature in our gardens, we’re helping to look after ourselves and our planet. The good news is that millions of us are already doing something and millions more could easily join in.”
B&Q’s Sustainability Manager Rachel Bradley said: “We’ve been encouraging people to take steps to bring wildlife into their gardens for many years because we know people love it. Our new report shows that ordinary gardens can make a bigger contribution to supporting our precious wild plants and animals than we ever suspected. And connecting with nature through our gardens is great for our health and wellbeing.
“But we also unearthed the perceived barriers people describe that prevent them from doing more. Now we want to help more people understand that it doesn’t need to take much time, money, space or know-how – to make more of our gardens and outdoor spaces even better, for nature and ourselves.”
Among the declining species which our gardens are helping to support are the hedgehog, house sparrow, song thrush, starling, common toad and Britain’s biggest insect, the stag beetle.
Yet their ability to support wildlife is under threat. New homes have much smaller gardens, and studies have found that our gardens are increasingly covered in hard surfaces like concrete and paving slabs.
The Nature of Gardens includes findings from research commissioned by B&Q into people’s feelings and attitudes to nature in their gardens. And it’s packed with striking statistics and facts including:
The consumer research found that large majorities of people are worried about the decline in UK wildlife and want more nature in their gardens. People said that the main barriers to doing more to attract and support wildlife in gardens are a lack of time, a lack of money, a lack of knowledge and a lack of space.
B&Q has distilled the report’s finding into ten top tips which can help everyone to attract wildlife and benefit from it – with an emphasis on those of us who are novice gardeners and wildlife-watchers, who have small gardens or no garden at all. There is also a handy summary of the report.