Hayes & Harlington Gazette
Simple ways we can all help boost biodiversity
Hannah Stephenson asks Gemma Golding, the newly appointed RHS senior ecologist, how gardeners can try to become more‘nature positive’ and support the environment
Boosting wildlife, reducing carbon footprints and becoming ‘biodiversity positive’ are all part of the ongoing RHS Planet-Friendly Gardening Campaign.
“We have a target of ‘biodiversity positive’ by 2025, reversing habitat destruction in gardens and community green spaces around the country, protecting and improving conditions for pollinators and other wildlife and enhancing and conserving cultivated plant diversity for the future,” says the charity’s new senior ecologist, Gemma Golding.
Here’s a closer look at how gardeners can take inspiration... compost and switching your fence to a green screen or a green wall, can all play their part.
“I look at how the environment and ecology can sit together in a mixture of habitats and how the eco-system works, when wildlife and other nature would start to move in. An example might be to have a pond. Rather than look at individual species, if you improve the whole eco-system, that’s when wildlife would be attracted,” says Gemma.
Choose plants wisely
“It’s about mixing native with non-native, having winter berry varieties like holly to prolong the period when particular bird species have food, for instance, and it’s worth thinking of tree and shrub species which will benefit wildlife and biodiversity,” says Gemma. Plant a tree in your community, school, workplace or home to draw carbon out of the air, include perennials to help provide food and shelter for wildlife.
Helping threatened species
Birds on the red list of the UK’s leading bird conservation and monitoring organisations include the house martin and the greenfinch.
But there are things gardeners can do to help stem the decline.
“Some of it is down to disease spread through bird feeders – so encouraging people not just to put food out but thinking how they maintain their bird feeders and cleaning them regularly, and the same with bird baths, is one thing that people can do,” explains Gemma.
Box clever to save bats
“Bats are losing their habitats. Older buildings may have more natural holes and crevices for roosting. New buildings are often perfect-looking with fewer holes, so bat boxes are useful,” says Gemma.
“The right habitat is green space and linear features in parks and gardens, or rough, wild habitat next to railway lines, and rivers. In terms of flowers, gardeners can plant specimens with night-scented flowers to encourage prey.”
Other creatures who need help
Gemma says: “The hedgehog is a big one, great crested newts are losing breeding ponds as our ponds decrease, and other birds including swifts have declined.”
More research is needed
Bee, bat and invertebrate surveys by ecologists are planned for next year, to understand what species we have, breeding patterns, rare species and supporting habitats.