Wildlife Pathways, Wildlife Crossings

Scientists report that one in six species in the UK are at risk. The State of Nature report last year highlighted the decline of plants and animals and the degradation of habitats from wetlands to wildflower meadows and woodlands. The good news is that you can make a difference, however small or large your nature patch, you can encourage wildlife to move in or at least drop by. The trick is to let it run wild.

Wildlife need space to roam. Insects, birds and mammals need enough food, shelter and the opportunity to meet mates. But wetlands are being drained, hedgerows uprooted and woodlands logged, as nature is broken apart by roads, towns and pesticide heavy farms. So when you decide to go wild, please encourage your neighbours to join in. Connecting an increasingly fragmented nature really does help species survive.

These wildlife corridors might be ‘pollinator pathways’ helping bees find enough nectar in an urban jungle, road signs warning motorists of migrating frogs hopping across or hog-friendly pathways linking hedgehog-sized holes through garden fences. Hedgehogs, for example can walk up to two kilometres each night searching for food. But it’s a risk to cross roads and they can get trapped in gardens. With greater public awareness of the threats to this prickly British icon, over 120,000 people are now involved in Hedgehog Highways to help these much-loved but increasingly rare creatures revive.

You can pick and mix what you offer to encourage a variety of insects, amphibians, mammals and birds to live close-by. Make a washing-up bowl pond for aquatic insects, frogs and newts (but remember to pile up stones so hedgehogs can clamber out if they fall in!), put out a shallow drinking bowl for small visiting mammals, hang bird feeders for different birds, put up bird nest boxes, install an insect hotel and plant a colourful variety of pollinator friendly flowers. Remember to choose native plants, avoid harmful pesticides and don’t be too tidy, wildlife love weeds and many find shelter in quiet tangled spaces.

Most importantly, take time to enjoy your wild visitors. It takes patience to watch for wildlife, but it is worth the wait. Discover that hedgehogs emerge at dusk and find out what time of day, and in which weather bees buzz most. See if you can identify birds alighting on your feeders. Look up to see if they are fleeting migrants or local residents and what they prefer to eat. Get up early for the dawn chorus and in time, you may be surprised that you can recognise a song bird’s tune.

Enthusiasm is infectious. If creating a nature patch brings you joy, you’re sure to inspire others too. Your patch will quickly become part of a local network of wildlife corridors. All over the world, connections between fragmented nature are proving critical for the survival of species from fish and frogs to hedgehogs, tigers, elephants and marine creatures too.

 

Wildlife Crossings: Protecting Animals Pathways Around the World

Written by Catherine Barr

Illustrated by Christiane Engel

Published by Otterbarry Books

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