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

- For more, see rhs.org.uk/ gardening-for-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.

 ?? ?? Help for habitats Going peat-free, making your own
RHS senior ecologist Gemma Golding
Help for habitats Going peat-free, making your own RHS senior ecologist Gemma Golding
 ?? ?? Consider a pond to attract wildlife
Consider a pond to attract wildlife
 ?? ?? Bats are losing their habitats
Bats are losing their habitats

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