Tag Archives: Featured

Wilding Wivey

Written by Geoff Johnson

We can create amazing wild habitats right here, in and around Wiveliscombe, in which nature can thrive.

Our natural world is in crisis.  We are living in a time of mass extinction, the last being 66 million years ago when an asteroid ended the dinosaurs. This is a terrible tragedy in itself, and extremely dangerous for humankind; we depend on a healthy ecosystem.  We’re not finished yet, but a mammoth effort is required. 

Here are some simple things we can do in our gardens:

  1. Create a pond.  Even a mini pond using a washing up bowl or old bath can be  valuable.  Put a plank or rocks in so that creatures can climb out.
  2. Stop using bonfires or sending green waste to the council. Mulch lawn clippings. Establish ‘beetle piles’ by putting cut garden waste, twigs and branches into a chicken-wired contained area, or just a pile.
  3. Create insect and small mammal ‘hotels’ – hollow stalks in bundles, logs with drilled holes or old air bricks.
  4. Establish permanent ground covering plant ‘corridors’ throughout your garden to enable animals to move around. Create holes in your fences and walls so small animals aren’t trapped and can move to different environments as needed.
  5. Turn off exterior lighting as this badly affects moths and other insects.
  6. Put bells on your cats, and keep them in at night. 55 million birds are killed in the UK annually by cats. 
  7. Encourage areas of lawns to be wildlife gardens, or simply not cut until autumn. This can be just a strip in a small garden.
  8. Establish a wildflower garden rather than a lawn. 
  9. Put up bird boxes. Make your own from cheap off-cuts.
  10. Leave untouched logs piles for hedgehogs and reptiles. …and fungi.
  11. Don’t cut down your ivy. Contrary to belief, it does not strangle trees! The nectar, pollen and berries are essential for insects and birds during autumn and winter when food is scarce. It also provides shelter for insects, birds, bats and other small mammals. The high fat content of the berries is a nutritious food resource for birds and they are eaten by a range of species including thrushes, blackcaps, wood pigeons and blackbirds.
  12. Put up bird feeders – for seeds and nuts.
  13. Cover your walls and fences with climbing plants including ivy.
  14. Host a ‘Wilding Rave’ where party goers create a wild habitat.
  15. Choose plants that provide food and nectar for as many months of the year as possible. Choose ‘pollinator’ plants as named on the package. Choose British native plants such as lungwort, purple toad flax, cow parsley, cow slips and lavender – the bees love it!
  16. Plant hedges to replace or be next to fences. The variety of plant species in the hedges should be chosen to benefit wildlife; native plants with fruit, berries and nuts. Why not make your whole hedge edible!
  17. Don’t cut your verges until mid-September, and then sweep up and compost the clippings.
  18. Don’t use peat – it is a carbon store. (Check the label of any compost to see that it doesn’t include peat.)
  19. Harvest all apples, store those not being eaten, and put piles of them on your lawn every fortnight throughout winter for blackbirds and other wildlife.
  20. Have an untidy garden.
  21. Plant trees that flower and provide food e.g . cherries or plums.
  22. Provide drinking water with lots of bowls and buckets with rocks in them – some sunk to ground level.

I’d love to hear your ideas. Perhaps you have questions or are willing to help others. Contact me on somersetvet@yahoo.com

See resources and references with further information

Image at top shows a small wildlife pond created in a Wiveliscombe garden 4 months ago: already 4 frogs!

UK target for net zero carbon emissions

As one of her last acts as Prime Minister, Theresa May has announced the UK will be the first major economy to set a legal target to stop contributing to climate change.

The target is to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, which is based on a report from the Committee on Climate Change on what is needed to achieve the Paris Agreement’s aim of limiting global warming to no more than 1.5°C. The target is also in line with recommendations from the International Panel for Climate Change, although some argue that the IPCC underestimate climate risks.

CCC-Net Zero by 2050
Click image to view full infographic, from the Committee on Climate Change, on climate impacts, UK action and getting to net zero by 2050.

Further details and different perspectives are given in the following articles:

The UK’s new target is welcomed, but there is uncertainty on how quickly carbon neutrality is needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C. There is a strong argument we just need to make rapid progress as quickly as possible. Along with many other local authorities, both Somerset West and Taunton Council and Somerset County Council have recently declared climate emergencies and set targets to contribute to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. The true test of all these declarations and targets will be the action that follows. A Citizens’ Assembly, sponsored by House of Commons select committees, is to be held in the Autumn, which may prove interesting and assist with policy choices.

Refill to avoid plastic waste

Wivey Action hosted an inspiring public meeting on 27 November 2018 to share ideas on reducing single-use plastics, which was attended by about 40 people.

Local businesses, including The Larder, Garden Shop, Conrad’s Kitchen and Ray’s Veg, talked about actions they had taken. There was a presentation on government plans and how the greatest benefits arise from first trying to reduce plastic waste, followed by reuse and recycling, and lastly from energy recovery. Difficulties with biodegradable plastics and the importance of better packaging design were also discussed.

Several people avoid plastic when shopping by taking their own bags and containers, such as Tupperware. All the business attending were happy to fill these, as well as others, such as Thornes Butchers and Taste of Spice. It is not always possible, but is one of the best solutions.

It is hoped more people will ask about refilling in shops and adopt a habit of taking their own containers. Ideas to promote this, such as a Wivey Plastic Free Week, are now to be considered.

Hothouse Earth tipping points

An international team of scientists has shown that even if the carbon emission reductions called for in the Paris Agreement are met, there is a risk of our planet entering what the scientists call “Hothouse Earth” conditions.

This would see the climate stabilise in the long term at a global average of 4-5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures, with the sea level 10-60 m higher than today.

The scientists conclude it is now urgent to greatly accelerate the transition towards an emission-free world economy. Avoiding a “Hothouse Earth” requires not only reduction of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions but also enhancement and/or creation of new biological carbon stores.

Reports with further details: