Over the past 50 years recent research shows that we have lost over 50 per cent of our biodiversity in the UK alone.

The decline is everywhere, from mammals, birds, plants to fish. There are a number of causes, including loss and fragmentation of habitat, pollution, over exploitation, the spread of non-native invasive species and also climate change is now beginning to take its toll.

There must be many of us over 65 who remember our parents and grandparents triumphant in their victory over aphids when they sprayed their roses with DDT. But this came at a huge price paid by butterflies, birds and a multitude of other species. Indeed DDT continues to cause problems 50 years after it was banned.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Many of us are deeply concerned about this loss of biodiversity, and gardening for wildlife is a very positive action that we can all take to provide a home for a range of wildlife. Positive steps can be taken even in a small space with a window box or a few pots. Gardening for wildlife does not mean do nothing, but it does mean thinking about the consequences, good and bad, of our actions. These are a few tips and suggestions.

Exotic species can bring great excitement and colour to our gardens, however it is often native plants that are struggling for survival. The RHS have demonstrated via long trials that native plants in the garden support a greater range of species in larger numbers than exotic garden plants. Having a combination of exotic garden plants for colour and form and native plants for diversity and wildlife is possible and can increase interest and enjoyment in the garden across the seasons.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Climate Action Stokesley and Villages

Management of the garden is also very important. Leaving areas of longer grass and piles of dead leaves provides food and habitat for a wide range of insects and birds. Dead leaves will be dragged down into the soil by earthworms benefiting soil structure and helping to aerate the lawn. Fallen apples are much loved by red admiral and comma butterflies, blackbirds, thrushes, redwings and fieldfares. Even dead flower heads can provide a place of shelter.

Bare soil may suit our need for tidiness but is bad for the soil structure and has limited value for wildlife. Dead leaves, mulch or even wood chips will provide essential cover for the soil, reduce fluctuations in soil temperature and prevent soil erosion. Using inorganic fertilisers is detrimental to soil structure and pesticides may kill the target species but will also kill species elsewhere in the food chain. Slug pellets will kill slugs but will also poison frogs, toads, birds and even pets.

If you would like to find out more, Climate Action Stokesley and Villages are giving a Gardening for Wildlife talk in Faceby Village Hall on Tuesday, March 12 at 7.30pm.

Energy extra

The Local Energy Advice Development (LEAD) programme are looking for homeowners who live in the Stokesley and villages area and would like an energy survey to be done on their home. Please visit our website for further information -https://climateactionstokesleyandvillages.org/energy/local-energy-advice-demonstrator-lead/