It’s a worrying fact that, primarily due to climate change, decades of unsustainable land use, and the widespread use of chemical insecticides, that vast areas of Britain’s natural habitats are being lost.
Consequently, the plant and animal species that rely on the habitats for their survival are in dramatic decline. In fact, since records began, Britain has lost over 50% of its biodiversity which alarmingly, is more than any other G7 country and which puts Britain in the bottom 10% of countries worldwide.
This huge loss might not be so obvious to the younger generations, but it will certainly be very clear to those of us who remember back just a few decades ago, when our seasonal weather was a lot more stable, and the countryside and home gardens were buzzing with wildlife. Wildlife that included the insects, a group that has been declining at a much faster rate than any other group of animals.
Ironically, though, the insect and other invertebrate species, are probably the most important group of animals within the natural world and their decline will have a direct and rapid impact on the overall health of an ecosystem. In addition, it’s the invertebrates that will pollinate our wild and cultivated plants and sustain the natural processes of composting and recycling dead organic plant and animal wastes.
Being at the lower level of natural food chains they’re also the essential food for the many creatures that predate on them. Although it’s now accepted that Britain’s biodiversity is in serious decline, it’s also been realised that urgent action is required if we are to try and redress the situation. And so, throughout the British Isles, a great deal of work is already underway to try and protect and conserve the country’s native species.
Such as within Britain’s 411 official nature reserves where natural habitats are protected, and also where farmlands are being successfully ‘rewilded’ by letting plants, trees and wildlife re-establish naturally to reform healthy biodiverse ecosystems.
But despite this encouraging news, there is still one important aspect must be addressed. And that’s to bridge the gaps between these protected natural habitats, linking them together so that the species within them can easily disperse and interbreed. Avoiding the creation of geographically isolated populations that over time risk becoming inbred, unhealthy and diseased.
And so, within Britain’s nature recovery plans, projects are being supported that connect the habitats by creating a network of tree and wildflower corridors along which wildlife from the protected zones can safely migrate to new locations.
But this is also where any one of Britain’s 23 million home gardens could help too. By becoming the ‘stepping-stones’ that wildlife can safely use on their journeys between protected habitats. Simply by allowing our home gardens to become safe places that provides easy access to food, shelter, water and of course, a chemical-free environment for the wildlife.
A realisation too that the creatures that eat our plants (the pests), will be playing a vital role in restoring biodiversity, since they will be the food of other species. The insectivorous creatures that, if they can survive and build up their numbers, will ultimately create a natural balance where the plant pests will be maintained at plant-safe levels as nature intended.