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Wildlife conservationists at a Deeping St James farm give advice on helping nature in your garden

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Hot on the heels of the COP26 summit, wildlife conservationists at a Deeping St James farm have come forward to ask members of the public to ‘keep doing their bit’.

Even if people feel disillusioned by the lack of action or urgency from those at the top and even if the changes they make seem very small, they are still worth is, say those at Vine House farm.

In an open letter, Phil Pickin – wildlife enthusiast, nature photographer, and associate of Vine House Farm – asks the public not to be despondent in the face of a “lack of urgency” and “vested interests in burning fossil fuels” from those in power.

Nicholas Watts at Vine House Farm (53015556)
Nicholas Watts at Vine House Farm (53015556)

Instead, Pickin urges the public to try to “keep doing their bit” – in whatever capacity they can manage – and gives advice on small ways members of the public can help protect the natural world from home.

“If we can’t rely on our leaders to take control of the situation, we must do whatever we can within our own homes,” he says.

“The suggestions as to ‘what we can do’ are not particularly radical. They include switching to a green energy supplier for your home, swapping to an electric car, recycling, going meat-free a few times a week, insulating your home, and cutting back on driving and flights where possible.

“Many of us are already doing these things, but if we can add to the list in any way, it will make a massive difference to the country’s carbon footprint.

“Put up a bird feeder, make a pond in your garden (even a small one) to encourage wildlife, plant insect- and bee-friendly flowers, invite hedgehogs into your garden, create a bug hotel, and let that be your protest.

“The best thing about these forms of action is they directly help nature, you can do them yourself, and above all, you can do them today.

“All of these things are within the scope of almost every person and every household in the country, regardless of what the government does. If each household looks out for nature in this space, collectively, it will make a huge, positive difference.”

Readers looking to attract and support wildlife into gardens, including wild birds that are in decline, can follow the advice in the panel, from Nicholas Watts, owner of Vine House Farm and avid conservationist.

What you can do...

  • Create a wildlife-friendly garden by planting dense shrubs and climbers, which provide cover from predators, and food, roosting and nesting opportunities for birds.
  • Include more open areas such as lawn in gardens, ideally leaving some areas with longer grass for birds to find shelter in.
  • Plant bee- and insect-loving plants and flowers, such as sunflowers, lavender, buddleja, foxgloves and hardy geraniums.
  • Include shrubs and trees which have berries for birds to eat – for example, cotoneaster, rowan, and blackberries (these are well-known favourites of blackbirds).
  • Add plants that have seeds birds eat – for example, sunflowers and many species of wildflower.
  • Create a bug hotel, which is essentially a pile of branches, twigs, and other garden waste tucked in a corner of the garden – insects will live, breed and hibernate in this and provide food for your birds.
  • Have a space for fresh water available for drinking and bathing – this can be in the form of a birdbath, pond, or simply a large bowl of water that you regularly replenish.
  • Put up different types of nest boxes – see our nest boxes and dedicated advice on ‘Putting up Nest Boxes’ for more info. These provide shelter for birds and their nests.

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