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Creating An Eco-Haven At Home: How to

The enduring popularity of shows like Springwatch and its spinoffs is a good sign that British people are still enjoying a love affair with the natural world around them.

The native flora and fauna of the UK may not be as spectacular as that of somewhere like Madagascar, but what we do have is very precious.

In order to maintain and increase the numbers of wild plants and animals, it’s important for everyone to do their bit and contribute to the protection of habitats and eco-systems, and one of the easiest ways to help out is by creating an eco-haven in your home.

Wildlife-friendly gardens are an essential link that joins up natural habitats by creating corridors through towns and cities. Your garden, however small it is, can be a valuable resting, eating and breeding spot for all sorts of animals, birds, and mini beasts if you provide the right environment.

Don’t be too clean!

Many insects need rotting wood or plant material; frogs and toads need damp places to shelter in out of the sun, and snakes and slowworms like to hide in the undergrowth. What’s more, a piece of old corrugated iron is a magnet for reptiles, as it helps them warm their bodies.

Plants you might think of as weeds provide resources for beneficial insects, for example, nettles are essential for peacock, small tortoiseshell and red admiral butterflies to breed, and even the much-maligned ragwort is the only home of the cinnabar moth caterpillar.

Include water in your garden

Water is essential for all living things, and unsurprisingly watering holes in your garden will attract all kinds of animals and some spectacular insects including dragonflies and damselflies.

You need the right kind of water for specific creatures, for example, frogs and toads spawn in still water, not running water. You also need a good variety of plant life, both in the water and in a marshy area leading away from the pond.

Make sure your pond has a ramp or other means for anything that falls in to climb out, and keep fish out of your wildlife pond, as they are predators for many water creatures. For ideas on water features and wildlife-friendly pond visit www.water-garden.co.uk.

Keep the natural balance
Pesticides generally don’t differentiate between pests and beneficial insects, and using any kind of chemical in the garden will cause some imbalance in the eco-system.

Try to steer clear of chemicals and stick to natural fertilizers like seaweed, manure and comfrey. Once the balance of wildlife is established, slugs and snails will be disposed of by the hedgehogs and birds, and greenfly by the ladybirds and lacewings.

There are many more ways to transform your garden into an eco-haven – the Springwatch website is an excellent place to start for example, and your local wildlife trust will have many valuable resources to help you make your garden more wildlife friendly.

It’s fun to do, and it’s even better when you can see all the creatures enjoying their new habitat!

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Suzi

Suzi

Editor in chief Suzi Dixon studied at Bournemouth university, went away for a while to work at The Daily Telegraph, then moved back to the sunny South coast for a quiet (er) life. Bournemouth News & Info is her website and she is assisted by the fabulous Fred From France in all things geeky and technical. Hire us to make your website, too, if you like.

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