Know what today is? World Wildlife Day.
We feel like it’s more important than ever to get people talking about our wildlife, which is under serious threat. In fact, 41% of species in the UK have declined in the last 50 years.
Insects are some of the most threatened, thanks (or no thanks) to pollution, global warming and pesticide overuse - plus the intensification of farming causing destruction to natural habitats. Just like mighty bees, butterflies are also excellent pollinators of the plants and crops that humans and animals eat. And without these beautiful little critters, we essentially won’t be able to grow our food.
Jonny is one of our amazing suppliers. Over on his farm, there are plenty of butterflies and wildlife. That’s because Jonny farms in harmony with nature. He stays well away from chemicals and pesticides, and there’s a huge variety of plants on the land. This means the soil is super healthy, and that has huge benefits for local wildlife.
Worried about wildlife? Us too. The good news is, you can help - whether it's a little flowerpot on your windowsill or a wild patch in your garden. Read on for some foolproof tips to keep wildlife thriving (even in the most unlikely places).
Weeds get a bad rap, but we say give your mower a break and relax about them. Let some of your grass grow longer - it’s home to many plants and insects, including butterflies and wildflowers. It doesn’t have to be your whole lawn; short grass is still very important. But a wild patch (or mini jungle) where bees, beetles and caterpillars can wander is great - it’ll help keep the soil healthy and birds will be able to feed on the seeds.
Basically, letting your lawn go a bit wild isn’t as bad as old-school gardeners might have us believe. It benefits plants and flowers, boosts nectar production and encourages nature to thrive. Which is a win for wildlife.
Not all flowers and shrubs are good for bees and butterflies - some just don’t produce enough nectar or pollen (or any at all). Flowers make places look pretty and all, but their most important job is to feed insects - remember biology class?
Pollinating insects and other wildlife are having a hard time finding food right now. That’s because their natural habitats are in decline. So the simple act of planting bee-friendly and butterfly-friendly flowers will give these amazing creatures a helping hand.
You’ll get to enjoy the buzz of bees and flutter of butterflies while they feast on this nectar-rich buffet:
Live in the city centre, or just don’t have any green space? Most of us are in this boat. But we can still create our very own gardens inside small spaces. Forget another framed poster - make use of your walls and grow a vertical garden. There are loads of plants that can thrive in a green wall, like herbs, fruits, ferns and flowers. Not so much wall space? We’re pretty sure you’ll have a window, and luckily you can grow the same plants in a window box. So get gardening and watch our pollinating friends feast.
If you’re lucky enough to have a big back garden or a shady patch of land, you should definitely consider building a pond. It’s one of the simplest ways to create a thriving habitat for wildlife, and gives animals access to fresh water. It doesn’t have to be massive, but if you decide to go big, make sure there are stones or branches to help wildlife get in and out (kind of like a mini lido). Stocking up on pond plants like water lilies is also a great call - they naturally prevent the water from going stagnant, and control algae growth without you having to go near any chemicals.
Live in a more urban area without so much space? Try using a buried bucket or old sink as a mini pond, or even a bowl on your windowsill to provide water for thirsty passers-by. And don’t forget to change the water every couple of days to keep it fresh for them. Seems simple, but it’ll help give local wildlife a real boost.
Got a load of garden waste, odds and ends knocking about? Bring piles of rocks, twigs and rotting wood back to life by building your very own multi-storey bug hotel (also known as a wildlife hotel/stack/insect Sistine Chapel). It’ll be a safe hideaway and feed everything from beetles, spiders and solitary bees to bumblebees, ladybirds, hedgehogs and toads.
This is an important one. Using harmful chemicals puts the whole ecosystem at risk (including us humans). If you think about it, plants are eaten by insects, birds, and other wildlife, which we consume too. Plus it’s terrible for soil health.
Pest issue? This is where building that bug hotel comes in handy. It can house natural predators like frogs, toads, beetles, ladybirds, and hedgehogs that keep pests in check.
You can also grow plants that are natural insect repellents. Citronella grass, clovers, common lantana, dill, fennel, and loads of other herbs do a great job of keeping pests away. Avoiding chemicals will encourage the wildlife that keeps soil naturally healthy, so you won’t even need to touch synthetic fertilisers anyway - they’ll do the work for you.
Helping nature starts at home. These simple activities and mini wildlife wins really add up, and can help local wildlife thrive.
There are loads of other ways to be proactive, like volunteering in wildlife centres, joining conservation organisations, or just supporting brands that truly back the cause.
Like Ember Biltong.
We’re doing our bit by sourcing our meat from farms that practice regenerative farming systems. This means wildlife can thrive, and soil regeneration can do its work. Farms like Jonny Rider’s and Dingley Dell (home of The Million Bee Project) do a brilliant job of keeping wildlife alive in their farms. When it comes down to it, it’s the little things that go the furthest when it comes to making a change. We all know that’s the best thing for the planet - and for us too.
Next Article: An interview with Philip Lymbery