Natural England
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Yes in my back yard!

Natural England launches wildlife gardening manifesto

The UK’s leading wildlife and horticultural organisations are today (Wednesday 18 July) joining Natural England in signing a wildlife gardening manifesto to save the nation’s gardens, particularly those in towns and cities.

Sir Martin Doughty, Chair of Natural England said: “The gardens of England are under threat. In London, front gardens with an area 22 times the size of Hyde Park are now paved over and lost, reducing havens for wildlife, increasing the impact of flash flooding and contributing to climate change.

“Through this manifesto, Natural England is calling to action businesses, the public sector and the public to play their part and give gardens a future – for the benefit of our own health and the survival of declining species, such as hedgehogs, frogs and bumblebees, that live on our doorsteps.”

This action follows a recent ICM Poll, commissioned by Natural England. The Poll found that 45% of 18-34 year olds do not feel they are well informed about wildlife gardening and 37% of 18-24 year olds said they would like to do more but don’t know how.

Gardens act as a food supermarket for many visiting and breeding animals. They are the place where most children make their first contact with the natural world and are often one of the only places where adults encounter wildlife apart from on a television screen.

Joan Ruddock, Minister for Biodiversity said: “This manifesto will help improve gardening advice to encourage people to manage gardens in a way that benefits wildlife. This is essential because as our climate changes, the network of gardens could help wildlife to adapt and migrate throughout the country.

“It is inspiring to see leading wildlife and horticultural organisations working together to highlight the importance of gardens for both wildlife and for people’s health and well-being.”

The event, held at ‘Roots and Shoots’ in Lambeth, London marks a commitment by organisations to take action in supporting the role gardens play in providing habitats for wildlife and providing easy access to nature.

For further information contact: The National Press Office on 0845 603 9953, press@naturalengland.org.uk, out of hours 07970 098005.

Notes to Editors

1. Photo opportunity: there will be an opportunity for photographs and interviews at 4pm, Roots and Shoots, the Vauxhall Centre, Walnut Tree Walk, Lambeth, London SE11 6DN.

2. Let our gardens live - A manifesto for sustaining gardens and their wildlife is available from this website.

3. ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1007 adults aged 18+ by telephone between 15-17 June 2007. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.icmresearch.co.uk.

4. 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.
  • 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.

5. Health facts:

  • Contact with the natural environment improves children's mental and physical health.
  • A child's self discipline can be improved by 20% by simply having views of trees and vegetation outside their homes.
  • Children are more likely to play in a green environment than on hard tarmac and at school this can reduce bullying.
  • Obesity levels for children aged 6 have doubled in the last 10 years, and have tripled in 15 year olds. 22% of adults are obese and about 40% are overweight. Being overweight or obese accounts for as much as 30% of heart disease and 80% of diabetes and costs the UK £2.5 billion a year.

Natural England works for people, places and nature to conserve and enhance biodiversity, landscapes and wildlife in rural, urban, coastal and marine areas.

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