It’s a pleasure to be in the gardens whatever the time of the year but for me it’s now when early autumn tickles at the trees and the air carries both the last whispers of summer and the chill promise of the winter to come that they are at their most enchanting. There is such a rich pallet of colours to enjoy from the late blooming flowers shouting their last hurrah to the shifting auburn and crimson tones of the dwindling canopy. Shrubs hang heavy with autumn fruits even as many of our residents from bats to butterflies prepare for hibernation, migrating birds take wing leaving for warmer climes whilst others arrive seeking shelter from the hard months ahead.

Not missing a chance to visit the gardens Team South Cliff took a self-distanced trip there last week to partake in Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British September Clean. Thanks to the extraordinary work of our Parks team and the great effort shown by visitors to dispose of their waste responsibly we were happy not to find very much rubbish to collect during our 90 minute excursion. But sadly that’s not the trend nationally, Keep Britain Tidy have found that local councils have collected a staggering 57 extra tonnes of rubbish from parks since lockdown restrictions were eased.   

Litter picking
Litter picking
Litter picking
Litter picking

We all hate seeing litter, it’s an eyesore that blights our communities and for nature it can be fatal. The RSPCA reports that it receives around 5000 calls a year related to rubbish and that’s just the problems people report, many more wild species will suffer and die needlessly after encountering thoughtlessly discarded waste.

But it’s not just the rubbish carelessly cast-off in neighbourhoods and green spaces that causes harm, the stuff we put in our bins can also prove deadly if not carefully disposed of.

The good news is that simple changes in our habits can have radical results. Here’s some tips on making household waste less rubbish for wildlife:

  • Put a knot in it! From crisps to frozen peas so much of our day to day food comes shrouded in single use plastic destined for landfill.  We can do our native species a huge favour by simply trying a knot in empty bags before they go in the bin, this might just save a scavenging animal a slow death by suffocation.
  • Break the loop! Never just discard the plastic that holds drinks cans together as animals can easily become entangled and suffer terrible wounds trying to break free, snip the loops before discarding and that also goes for the ear loops on disposable masks!
  • Stamp it out! Animals can get trapped in cans and containers so after fully removing the lid take a moment to stamp these containers shut before consigning to the bin.
  • Put a lid on it! Small creatures are attracted to glass and plastic containers such as bottles and jars which can act as suntraps and shelters but once inside they may find it hard to get back out. Simply replacing the tops on these everyday items before disposal could save a life.

There has never been a more urgent need to support our natural world. British wildlife is under threat at levels never seen before, in just fifty years numbers have dropped 60% and alarmingly 15 percent of all native species are on the verge of extinction with formally familiar sights such as hedgehogs and turtle doves now on the red list. 

Shockingly the UK is in the bottom 10% of countries when it comes to protecting nature. According to a recent RSPB report entitled “The Lost Decade for Nature” the UK has failed to reach 17 of 20 international targets intended to address environmental degeneration over the last ten years and alarmingly we have even gone backwards in 6 areas including wildlife decline. With 2% of native species already lost, it will be a national tragedy if we see any more join that list.

If you would like to learn more about the RSPB’s findings and discover further ways we can all help support nature visit their website.

Another way we can all help to track changes in our green spaces is by signing up to The Woodland Trusts nature spotting initiative Natures Calendar, it only takes a few moments to record your findings but they could make a huge difference to scientists understanding of the health of our natural environments. 

If you have a particular interest in wildlife and wildlife monitoring and would like to help us keep track of the species in the gardens from fungi to amphibians we would love to hear from you as we will be establishing a number of ecological monitoring initiatives to run throughout the regeneration project and beyond. We are also looking for nature enthusiasts to lead guided walks and wildlife spotting sessions in the gardens. If you would like to get find out more or get involved then please drop me an email.

Gemma Alexander

South Cliff Gardens Community Engagement Officer


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