This blog is a celebration of the nature in the South East and highlights ways you can get involved and explore nature in the region. If you've got news of the South East’s nature that you'd like to share, please contact the RSPB South East office on 01273 775333 or email SERComms@rspb.org.uk
Nature is a marvellous thing. We wouldn’t exist without it, which is why we should make sure it’s working properly.
Our Big Garden Birdwatch at the end of this month is one way to keep an eye on nature’s health. Those inclined to cynicism may well point to the flooded fields, homes and businesses and shout: “Nature’s sick, what more proof do you want”?
Any Doctor will tell you there are huge gulfs between knowing about an illness, discovering the cause and finding a remedy. And so it is with nature. That’s why the Birdwatch is so important and why it needs more participants.
Science and field tests have already taught us a lot, but I suspect we know more about what we don’t know than what we know about what we do know and don’t know, and that there is as big a gap again in what we don’t know about things we are aware of.
One thing we’re certain of. Owen Paterson was wrong in his assertion that you can replace ancient woodland with new young trees planted elsewhere. The pressure to be pro-development is huge. We know the economy is at a crawl and that 3 million young people aged 20 to 34 can’t afford to move out of their parents homes. It’s not just people who can’t find homes. The wildlife in the southeast is in serious decline. It’s not priced out of London, but something is pushing down wildlife populations.
Our research hasn’t yet pinpointed the reason or reasons. We suspect there are multiple reasons behind the changes. All we can say with certainty is that our nature is in decline. It’s haemorrhaging. The Big Garden Birdwatch will tell us more.
Nature is capricious. It’s also magical, humbling and resilient. There are things we can do to work with nature, and that’s where the science comes in. Understanding how nature works gives us the ability to harness its power and direct it to mutual advantage.
That is what has underpinned a partnership project between London Underground and the RSPB. LU manages around 4,000 hectares of London’s land surface; that’s the equivalent of more than 28 Hyde Parks. To mark the underground’s 150th birthday they’ve pledged to create 150 Homes for Nature. One of those "150 homes" was the planting of 150 hedging plants along with nest boxes and a Hogitat at Oaks Park High School.
RSPB London Manager Martyn Foster joined Phil Hufton, LU’s Chief Operating Officer, in helping some year seven pupils plant the whips and some fruit trees straddling the border between the school and the embankment. It’s created a new outdoor learning space for the school and replaces some trees lost in the recent storms.
While many Londoners don’t have gardens, we all have access to a windowsill, community greenspace, tree-pit or grass verge. Sowing wildflowers and grasses helps wildlife by creating shelter and providing food. You can then monitor what uses your mini nature reserve in next year’s Big Garden Birdwatch.