News: Spring/Summer 2006
Conservationist urge gardeners to fight climate change
Appeared on Space For Nature on June 14th 2006
Conservationists are making increasingly earnest efforts to recruit Britain's gardeners to combat biodiversity loss resulting from climate change.
Britain's gardeners are being asked to open up their borders, lawns and shrubs to help tackle the world's greatest environmental threat: climate change.
More than a million species in the world are in danger from a warmer planet - including many of the UK's birds and other creatures expected to lose feeding and breeding grounds - as warmer, drier summers and wetter, stormier winters become more common.
Experts have long warned that nature reserves will not help protect threatened species because habitats will shift with the weather. Now they are appealing to gardeners, whose land covers a greater area than all the special reserves.
'Every garden is a habitat for wildlife,' said Chris Gibson, a senior conservation officer for English Nature, which will launch its campaign at the BBC Gardeners' World Live show this week at the National Exhibition Centre near Birmingham. 'Even the most unnatural garden is a habitat for some natural wildlife and gardeners can do their bit to create little bits of habitat wildlife can use.'
Wildlife gardening is increasingly popular with conservationists as a way of providing new habitats between breeding areas. Among the tips suggested by English Nature is planting pollen-rich and bell-shaped plants for bees, colourful flowers to attract butterflies, leaving log and leaf piles for hedgehogs, and spurning slug pellets.
Creating boggy areas or ponds can help amphibian species - one third of which are said to be threatened - and bats which feed off the insects.
The British Trust for Ornithology has issued detailed advice for gardeners wanting to provide habitats for birds, including how to put out a variety of food in different places throughout the year.
Each gardener and patch of land might seem too small to solve a global problem, but together they could make a huge difference, say the experts. Nearly two-thirds of British adults are gardeners - more than twice the number who watch football. The total area of UK gardens is also greater than all the national nature reserves, said Morag Shuaib, the Wildlife Trusts' project officer for Gardening for Wildlife, a scheme run jointly with the Royal Horticultural Society.
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