Leading South West housebuilders Barratt Homes and David Wilson Homes and the RSPB have launched Nature on Your Doorstep, a project designed to inspire and advise everyone on how to turn their outdoor spaces into havens for wildlife - whether it be a garden, balcony, yard, or community green space.
This project comes after a year in lockdown caused many to rediscover and rejoice in their local nature. In 2020 alone over 1.7 million people sought advice from the RSPB website on how to make their garden more wildlife-friendly, and in January the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch saw a record-breaking one million people take part in counting the birds in their garden.
In a recent YouGov poll, two thirds of people in the UK said nature was a source of solace during the pandemic, with more than half of those surveyed believing the pandemic has made them more aware of the nature around them. A recent study from Princeton University, USA, also found that gardening is one of the top five activities for increasing emotional wellbeing.
The importance of the outdoors to our own health is reflected by the Mental Health Foundation choosing ‘Nature' for the theme of this year's Mental Health Awareness Week (running from 10-16 May) in recognition of how nature helped people through the pandemic.
From today, visitors to Nature on Your Doorstep will be able to access how-to gardening guides, easy step-by-step videos, seasonal gardening advice and an online community dedicated to bringing people together to ask questions, seek advice, and share their successes (and learning experiences).
Already available are four of the ten ‘Wildlife Action' articles and how-to videos from Adrian Thomas, the RSPB's wildlife gardening expert. The first two articles, for example, are titled ‘The best plants for wildlife' and ‘Just add water', and will talk people through how to find their green fingers ("Even great gardeners have plant failures!") and the importance of water for wildlife ("It's the magical ingredient that brings your outside space to life"). Visitors to the page will also be able to sign up to receive a monthly newsletter full of useful tips and tricks.
Over the next three years the project will continue to grow into a go-to place for gardening for wildlife. The project will host everything from customisable content to seasonal advice across the four nations, as well as conducting research into what drives or prevents people from welcoming wildlife to their outside spaces and investigating how to empower local communities to make shared spaces a home for wildlife.
Adrian Thomas, the RSPB's wildlife gardening expert, said: "Our local wildlife has been an incredible source of comfort over the past year of isolation and uncertainty, and we're so thrilled to see people wanting to help nature in return. With Nature on Your Doorstep we want to provide a place for everyone to learn from each other, ask questions, and be inspired to do more.
"Gardens can provide a crucial lifeline for struggling species - familiar birds such as the house sparrow have seen their numbers halve in the last 40 years, while 28 species of urban butterflies are down 69% in three decades. But seven out of eight households in Britain have a garden, and that is a huge patchwork of potential homes for nature. To that hungry butterfly, or that weather-beaten bird looking for a place to roost, just one garden can make all the difference. If we all work together to transform our gardens, we can truly revive our world."
Barratt Homes and David Wilson Homes are currently building new communities and homes in locations across the South West including:
Canalside, Wichelstowe, Swindon - 208 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedroom homes, the first homes in a landmark new community alongside the Wilts and Berks canal which will include 200 acres of open space and 12km of new nature trails.
Hunters Wood, Melksham - 225 2, 3 and 4 bedroom David Wilson Homes in the Wiltshire countryside and within walking distance of the market town's historic centre, shops, cafes and restaurants.
Birds Marsh View, Chippenham - 436 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedroom homes in the first phase, followed by more to come set within 11 acres of open space with allotments, an orchard, two play areas and historic woodland on its doorstep.
To turn your patch into paradise for you and your wildlife, please go to: rspb.org.uk/yourdoorstep