Giving Nature a Home

The RSPB is calling on people to get involved in Giving Nature a Home this summer by doing at least one thing for wildlife in their garden or outdoor space after new data revealed further declines in sightings of some of our most familiar and favourite garden species.

Results from the Big Garden Birdwatch wildlife survey showed only 25 per cent of people in Hampshire see hedgehogs in their gardens at least once a month. This is also the national average and 13 percent fewer than in 2014.

The numbers of people who have never seen a hedgehog in their garden continued to grow to 25 per cent, up 11 per cent since 2014.

This pattern of decline in sightings is apparent across both rural and suburban gardens, yet in urban gardens the number of people who have reported seeing a hedgehog on a monthly basis has increased by 12 percent in the last two years (26 percent overall). Hedgehog populations remain in a long-term decline with the latest figures suggesting that the UK population has dipped to under one million.

Gardens cover an estimated ten million acres, the equivalent area the size of five million football pitches, in the UK. Each green space can make a difference, from a window box full of pollen rich plants for bumblebees to a small pond hosting a whole range of different species.

The RSPB is calling on people to help save nature this summer by getting involved in Giving Nature a Home, and doing at least one action for wildlife in their garden or outdoor space.

Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientist, said: “With the right care and attention your garden could become a home to all kinds of different species, and you could have a front row seats to some amazing wildlife shows. The UK is home to some fascinating garden wildlife from bugs to butterflies, hedgehogs to house sparrows – our outdoor spaces provide these species with the vital homes they need to survive.

“It’s interesting to see a rise in the number of people recording sightings of some of our struggling garden wildlife – and although this isn’t suggesting population changes – it could mean that people are becoming much more aware of the species that can find a home in their back garden.”

For the first time Hampshire participants were asked to keep an eye out for foxes and stoats visiting their garden. The results revealed that foxes were the second most popular visitor, with 43 per cent of people spotting one in their garden at least once a month this year, 2 per cent higher than the national average.

Grey squirrels remained the most common garden visitor for the third year running, with 76 per cent of UK participants spotting one scurrying across their garden at least once a month. In Hampshire, this increased to 77 per cent.

Sara Humphrey, Communications Officer, said: “Hampshire residents are lucky to have some amazing green spaces around them. Your garden can provide an invaluable resource to animals travelling between these spaces or looking to set up new territories. Something as small as creating gaps in fences to allow hedgehogs to roam can have huge benefits to the population in your area.

Daniel Hayhow added: “By providing shelter and a safe place to make a home, gardens provide an invaluable resource and are a key element in helping to save nature, perhaps even playing a pivotal role in reversing some declines.”

To help people create their own wildlife friendly garden, the RSPB launched a new online tool this week that will build their own personalised plan for nature. The plan will be unique to the individual and will not only target their favourite species, but the wildlife that is struggling in that particular part of the country.

You can create your own personal plan and give nature a home near you at www.rspb.org.uk/plan

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