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  • Marina Pacheco

How to Improve your Outdoor Space for Nature - Why should we help nature?

Updated: Apr 30, 2019

Attractive spaces enhance life in the city for everyone.
People enjoying a tree lined avenue

This may seem like a strange topic for a green organisation’s blog, but there is a reason for it. A great project called Common Cause for Nature (get their free booklet: here) pointed out that most people don’t know what the problem is. You might think that’s impossible with all the news we get. But you are also interested in the environment which is why you’re reading this blog. Sadly, many people don’t know what a poor state our planet is in. The even worse news is that a 2013 Gloabescan poll showed that environmental concerns were at a twenty-year low. I hope they’ve picked up since then, but I am not hopeful.

It is helpful, therefore, to explain why we are worried before we talk about what we can do. All the other blogs on the site are about actions we can take as individuals and collectively to help turn things around.

A brief summary of the problem

Aside from global warming and excessive level of pollution on land, sea and air, we are living through a mass extinction of plants and animals. Whole species are going extinct. Even the ones we still have are reducing in numbers. In the UK we know, from memory or talking to friends and neighbours that we see fewer birds, butterflies and hedgehogs than we used to. When was the last time you saw a sparrow, once an icon of London, let alone a whole flock of them? With some notable exceptions, we are seeing decreasing numbers in all our plants and animals. Aside from anecdotal evidence we have the State of Nature report produced by the RSPB. It was compiled from data supplied by most of the conservation groups in the UK. The report has shown that; “Between 1970 and 2013, 56% of species declined, with 40% showing strong or moderate declines.”

As the number of people on the planet increases and as our cities grow ever more crowded, our impact on nature will become even more severe. This is bad for people because we need nature. At a very basic level just seeing greenery is good for our physical and mental well being. There are hundreds of studies showing the benefits of nature for our health. Everything from faster healing rates if you have a green view from your hospital window, to reducing depression levels if you go for a walk in a park.

Nature also provides us with a lot of services we couldn’t do for ourselves. I’m sure you’ve all heard that bees provide billions of pounds worth of pollination services. We’d be hard-pressed to create machinery or pay people to go out and pollinate our commercial crops if we had to pay that much for it. That’s not to mention the production of honey. Aside from the well-known work of bees, nature also cleans the air and filters our water, it helps cool our cities and breaks down our waste. We’d be in dire straits indeed if we lost all these services.

I have to admit I’m not crazy about putting a financial price tag on nature. It gives the impression that if you lose something, it can be replaced by spending some money. We should value nature for nature’s own sake. We should want to protect it because the world would be a sadder place without it.

It can feel overwhelming to see the huge losses, the increasing levels of pollution and the loss of green space. You may be left wondering what you can do about it.

The good news is that we can do something about it. Nature is good at bouncing back. We have plenty of evidence that if we provide the right environment, it’s amazing how quickly it starts to recolonise. So while this was a depressing blog, I hope you understand why we need to explain the problem. We should also tell our friends and family why we are worried. I was amazed by how little knowledge my non-green friends had on the topic. Next, we can roll up our sleeves and take action!

Female sparrow perched on a ledge.
The once ubiquitous London sparrow is now a rarity

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