August 2021: Council News

July 30 2021

Restoring nature

South Gloucestershire Council leader Toby Savage explains how people can work together to make a real difference for our wildlife

WE are lucky to have such beautiful open spaces, communities and landscapes in South Gloucestershire and we must safeguard them for the health, well-being and enjoyment of future generations.
Restoring nature in our communities is critical, not only for wildlife but also for people, and it is a central part of our response to the climate and ecological emergencies.
As our population grows, more pressure is put on nature. The effects of intensive farming, pollution, urbanisation, climate change, non-native species and overfishing can be seen in declining species, with numbers of hedgehogs falling by a third since the year 2000, for example.
The good news is that by acting now and working together, we can make a real difference. Between us we can do an enormous amount to protect and restore nature.
As a council we are working with residents and landowners to plant thousands of new trees and managing grassland to support wild flowers and pollinators.
You can also create habitats and support nature in your own gardens, at work, or on land you own. Here are just some of the ways you can help:
• Put up a nest box for swifts or other birds
• A log pile in your garden provides shelter for insects, amphibians and hedgehogs. Use a mixture of fallen branches or offcuts from pruning, bark and twigs, and locate it under a bush or in a quiet corner
• Leave your grass to grow over the summer to encourage more plant life and insects
• Planting a fruit tree will provide an incredible year-round resource for wildlife - and food for you
• Take part in litter picking. If you are a regular walker, take a bag and pick up litter as you go
• Set your outside lights on a motion sensor, angling them downwards, and turn off any decorative lights overnight, to save energy and reduce light pollution for nocturnal wildlife
• Avoid using pesticides and weedkiller, which can harm wildlife
• Use peat-free compost or try producing your own, with a composter or compost heap
• When buying plants, aim for native, UK-grown species
• Save rainwater in water butts and barrels. Pond life will much prefer natural rain water if you need to top up your water features
These initiatives will not only support nature and the environment but help to keep our communities as pleasant and healthy places for everyone.
For more information about gardening for wildlife visit the Creating a Wildlife-friendly Garden section of the RSPB website or ptes.org/get-involved/wildlife-action/.
A free online climate emergency training course is available at bit.ly/2UDeL1K