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Author: Louise Williams, Posted: Wednesday, 26th August 2020, 08:00

Last July, the Cotswold District Council declared an ecological emergency. Experts say that since the 1930s, 97% of Britain’s wildflower meadows have been destroyed. 97%! And the impact that has had on our flying insect population, especially vital pollinators like bees, has been catastrophic.

Thankfully, people have recognised the enormous importance of bees and the role they play in our survival, but it is important to recognise that not everything we do to try and help is actually helpful!

Check that wildflower seeds are UK native

It’s worth noting that some of the ‘pretty’ wildflower seeds and bombs you can buy are not actually native to the UK and therefore, whilst looking beautiful and eye catching on roundabouts and verges, they aren’t food for the bees. So do make sure to check that they are UK native plants and flowers when buying.

With regards to mammals in the UK, studies show there has been a 41% decline in species studies since 1970 and that 26% of these are at risk of disappearing altogether, with one in seven UK species at risk of extinction.

But there is some hope. During lockdown, many people spent time really exploring and enjoying their local area, taking new pleasure and delight in the countryside. There was a renewed interest and enjoyment in nature and being outside, and a feeling that people have slowed down enough to see what is happening around them and have a real desire to help stop this rapid decline in our wonderful British ecosystem.

The thing we can all do to help when exploring our natural world is to really learn the countryside code. As a child, these things were ingrained in me, but I know for many they are new.

Things like closing gates, keeping dogs on leads if they might chase other animals, and leaving nothing but footprints are all things you would hope were common sense, but some-times it seems people need a reminder. Lead by example, take every scrap of rubbish home, impress on children the importance of leaving things as you found them.

Teach children to respect their surroundings

The most important thing we can do is to teach our children, the next generation, to respect their surroundings. Tell them the names of the flowers and the bugs, encourage them to get down and really study that beetle. Take them into woodland and get them to close their eyes and try to identify all the different noises they hear.

Teach them the difference between the trees, how to tell which is which by the shape of the leaves. Look for animal tracks in the mud, make bug homes in the garden, identify scraps of fur found on fences.

These small people are the future of planet Earth, and if we teach them to understand and truly care, maybe we can make up for the mistakes of previous generations.

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