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Wildlife Trust campaign encourages public to reconnect with nature

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A neighbourhood garden project. Picture: Alamy/PA
A neighbourhood garden project. Picture: Alamy/PA

How can you reconnect with nature? It could be taking your breakfast outside to start the day, listening to the birds, reading a wildlife book or photographing a ladybird.

Connecting with wildlife and reconnecting with families and friends in the process is hugely important, says The Wildlife Trusts (wildlifetrusts.org), organisers of the 30 Days Wild campaign throughout June, in which gardeners and the wider public are being encouraged to carry out one ‘random act of wildness’ every day for a month.

You may want to start simple – putting out a birdbath, or stacking up some logs in a forgotten corner for insects – or you could join the campaign trail, writing to your MP to ask for more local action for nature and wildlife.

Ian Jelley, director of living landscapes for Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, explains: “The whole premise of 30 Days Wild is about people engaging with nature more often. People individually can make a big difference to the species on their doorstep, but also need to take collective action to help bring our wildlife back.”

Hedgehog. Picture: Alamy/PA
Hedgehog. Picture: Alamy/PA

Encourage neighbours

“The key is to share enthusiasm and what everyone can enjoy if you all work together. As a charity we have been trying to do more landscape-scale conservation where more people work together. If people are inspired by people they know and live near, it’s really powerful,” Jelley says.

Share experiences

“We moved into our house in November, put in a trail camera and discovered we had a hedgehog in our garden and I started having a conversation with the neighbours, asking them if they had hedgehogs in their garden.

“A hedgehog moves through quite a large area when it’s feeding, so it needs access to gardens. One of the challenges is that a lot of gardens are fenced or have a wall, so hedgehogs can’t access the gardens so easily,” he says.

“Talk to neighbours to see if they can help create a corridor by cutting a small hole in the bottom of their garden fence. Then the neighbour can share stories of what the hedgehog was doing in their garden and it starts to feel like it’s a community pet, with shared responsibility for looking after its welfare.”

Ian Jelley, director of living landscapes for Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. Picture: Ian Jelley/PA
Ian Jelley, director of living landscapes for Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. Picture: Ian Jelley/PA

Connect through social media

“There is a 30 Days Wild Facebook group which is a great example of how people from all walks of life share their experiences of wildlife, ask for help in identifying something, or support each other with practical ideas on how to make space for nature,” explains Jelley.

“Technology is a brilliant way of recording wildlife, but it’s also a brilliant way of celebrating it. There are loads of different groups on social media platforms who are sharing stories of what they’ve encountered and asking questions about species.”

Join or set up a community group

“If you have a shared community green space within an urban area, there is an opportunity to influence that to help wildlife,” he notes. “We work with social housing providers to help them manage their land. Often these providers will engage the residents that live there and ask them what they’d like to see – to accommodate what is good for wildlife, but is also interesting for people.

“You might get involved in creating a wildflower meadow. You can create one in a raised bed or a pot or at the side of a shrubbery.”

You can get all generations involved too. The charity suggests recording some older community members talking about their most treasured wild memories as part of a wild time capsule project.

Create neighbourhood competitions

Challenge the next village along to build the best bug hotel, for instance, the charity suggests.

Think about doing less

“Sometimes with wildlife, it’s actually about doing less. If you’re cutting back verges or hedges less often, you are providing more natural conditions for wildlife. Engage with decision-makers and people who manage the green space around you, which is a powerful community influence.”

Donate wildlife-friendly gifts

Donate nest boxes to a local school, business or care home, which will not only give the recipients a connection to nature, but encourage neighbours and friends to do the same, to cast the natural network wider.

Learn from allotment holders

“[Allotments] are fantastic places for wildlife. They are a lifeline for species like slow worms and other reptiles that rely on compost heaps and the conditions allotments provide,” Jelley says.

“Allotment holders are often very knowledgeable about the need for bees and butterflies, to grow the crops they are trying to grow.”

Access specialist groups

“There are specialist groups around the country for all sorts of different things. The Wildlife Trusts can help signpost people to them. If people don’t know where to start, contact your local wildlife trust to find out what’s happening in your area,” Jelley says.

“The local trusts will often be running activities and events, but are also the facilitators of more specialist groups, such as those who are interested in bats or dragonflies or whatever. They are keen to pass on that knowledge and to help newcomers learn about stuff on a basic level.”

For more ideas and to join in the fun at 30 Days Wild visit wildlifetrusts.org/30DaysWild

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