Campaign - get your kids into the garden
Gardens across England, large or small, can be havens for wildlife and are great places to get children interested in the natural environment, said Natural England today (Saturday 21 June) as it hosts the 2008 Wildlife Gardening Conference at the Zoological Society in London.
Whether you want to have more wildflowers in your garden, make your pond a friendly place for wildlife or create a ‘living’ roof, this event has everything you need to set your garden on the road to becoming a haven for wildlife.
Sir Martin Doughty, Chair of Natural England said: "Gardens are a great way for everyone to get involved in protecting wildlife in England. Any green space - urban or rural - that can provide a place for wildlife is important. Gardening can also help plant the seed of outdoor enjoyment in children’s minds.
"We know that the gardens of England are under threat. As we highlighted last year, in London alone front gardens with an area 22 times the size of Hyde Park has already been paved over and lost. This reduces havens for wildlife, increases the impact of flash flooding and contributes to climate change. But, it's not all bad news. People can help by just doing a few easy things in their garden or surrounding green space," concluded Sir Martin.
Stephen Moss from the BBC Natural History Unit will open the event with a key note speech on children and their environment, he said: "There are well over 15 million gardens in the UK and for millions of kids it's their first point of contact with the natural world as a place to play and explore the wonders of life in the undergrowth. Offering kids the chance to help out in the garden, allotment or local park opens the door to an outdoor classroom. It's so easy for parents and kids to get involved and make a real difference for people and wildlife - and its great fun too!"
The event will include presentations and practical advice from wildlife garden experts Dr Ken Thompson and Chris Baines and visitor will have the chance to see Natural England’s new Wildlife Gardening CD which is available online at
Natural England’s recent State of the Natural Environment report found that species such as the common frog, song thrush and hedgehogs are able to exploit a wide range of niches in towns and cities. These species have suffered marked population declines in the wider countryside, but they are found in significant numbers in urban areas and particularly domestic gardens.
Top tips for wildlife:
Create a pond - or just let an upturned bin-lid or a sunken washing bowl fill with water. Make sure ponds have one sloping side to allow creatures an easy way out and add lots of plants.
Brighten your garden with flowers that provide pollen and nectar for bees, butterflies and other insects all year round. Many garden plants are as good for wildlife as wild flowers.
Leave a pile of dead wood in a shady spot. Any wood will do, though large logs are best and can make a home for anything from beetles to other useful mini-beasts.
Have a variety of trees, shrubs and climbers – or a mixed hedge – to give food and shelter to wildlife.
Look after mature trees in and around your garden and they’ll look after the wildlife. Old trees are more important for wildlife than anything else.
Build a compost heap – it will save you money! It will also shelter creatures like slow worms that eat slugs.
Provide food and water for birds all year round.
Relax! Don’t feel you have to be too tidy. Leave some areas undisturbed. Allow a patch of grass to grow longer. This will encourage the wild flowers, provide shelter for small mammals and food for some butterfly caterpillars.
Garden in a sustainable way to help protect wildlife and the environment worldwide. Use fewer chemicals and no peat; choose wood from sustainable sources; recycle all you can and save water.
Nearly one million copies of Natural England's wildlife gardening CD have already gone out the door but it's now available online, visit
Up to 50 organisations and companies will attend the event to provide advice on thorny gardening issues. Alongside the conference, there will also be a Wildlife Gardening Fayre at Regent's Park, open to the public from 10am - 5pm - entry is free. For more information click here
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