A recent Times Environment feature focused on small space rewilding.  This is what it said:

“A new study demonstrates the impact on wildlife of nurturing small spaces. Much is written about the benefits of mass rewilding projects, across vast swathes of land. But scientists at the University of Melbourne found that a mere 12 months after an area of lawn, containing just two trees, was converted into a rich garden, the biodiversity of the space had been transformed.

According to results published in the British Ecological Society’s journal Ecological Solutions and Evidence, after just one year the number of insect species had increased five-fold. After three years they were up seven-fold. Overall 94 species of insect were identified – including bees, wasps, ants and more. Ecologist Dr Luis Mata, one of the researchers, said: “The indigenous insects we documented spanned a diverse array. Detritivores that recycle nutrients, herbivores that provide food for reptiles and birds; predators and parasitoids that keep pests in check.”

This must have been a huge project, you might think, with an abundance of plant species, to achieve such a dramatic impact on biodiversity. Not at all. The entire site was just 195 square metres – about the size of a standard tennis court, or a generous urban garden. Just 12 different species were planted – hardly an ambitious undertaking for a horticultural hobbyist. “I’d love to see many more urban greenspaces transform into habitats for indigenous species,” said Mata. “We hope that our study will serve as a catalyst for a new way to demonstrate how urban greening may affect positive ecological changes.”

Granted, this was in Australia, which has a different ecosystem to ours. But the same principles apply. In our urban deserts – which are becoming greyer by the year – every little patch of green can make a huge difference. According to the Royal Horticultural Society, 15 per cent of the total plant cover in the front of homes disappeared in the ten years to 2015 as many homeowners paved over front gardens to create concrete parking spaces. This lack of plants also affects wildlife. The loss of bushes and hedges, for example, is believed to have contributed to a catastrophic decline in hedgehog numbers. Bees, which rely on flowers for nectar, are also declining, as are common birds and insects as their habitats and food sources vanish.

Take advantage of the sunshine while it continues, and launch your own rewilding project.”


These arguments surely apply as much to schools as they do to cities, towns and villages, especially when playing fields remain under development pressures.

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