Improve your space for nature: providing connections
One of the biggest challenges nature faces in a city is the broken landscape that we have created. We have a network of roads, fences, houses, shops and industrial estates that breaks the land up into small parcels. Some parcels, like suburban gardens, have a rich supply of food and shelter, but other areas, large swathes of tarmac and pavement for example, are not only bare of resources, but provide a challenge for an animal to get across. Crossing a road is as dangerous and difficult for an animal as if it was a stretch of water that has to be swum across.
We need to help animals by providing them with connections. We need to create linked up green corridors that makes it possible for animals to get from one pocket of food and water to another. These connections also provide opportunities to come across other animals and therefore find mates. To do this they have to be able to travel safely.
You can help in a number of ways:
1. Plant rows of trees, shrubs and hedges so animals can travel along and amongst the leaves. This is particularly helpful in front gardens especially if your neighbours do the same as it can link an entire street from end to end if everyone gets involved.
2. Leave gaps in your fences. Fences rot and fall down regularly, to prevent that a number of companies now provide very substantial concrete running boards. They’re great for a long lived fence but terrible for animals as there’s no way they can get in. Animals are reasonable climbers though so if you can cut a small hole in the wood above the running board at regular intervals along your fence line it will help the animals move across and around your space. Alternately you could dig a hole under the running board that will be helpful to toads and frogs.
3. Create vertical corridors. Animals move up and down as well as along, so if you provide well vegetated walls it will provide a vertical corridor as well.
4. If you can get involved at an early stage in road planning, you can lobby for underpasses and tunnels to be put under roads to allow animals to travel more safely than if they have to cross the road. Better yet, question the need for any new road. Research has shown that new roads only lead to more traffic, they never ease congestion. We should all be driving less anyway.
The aim of the game is to green as much as possible. Our cities would be much nicer places for us to live in if they were greener. This has huge advantages for us as well as for nature. More greenery helps clean pollutants from the air as well as cools cities down. If we could have more trees, more shrubs and more vegetated walls and roofs it would benefit all of us. I worry that our cities are getting browner and that we are paving more. Our public realm seems to have more concrete and less grass all the time and our front gardens have largely been concreted over for car parking. We need to make more of an effort to reverse that trend and make our outdoor space one we enjoy being in because it’s beautiful and filled with wildlife.