Going Wild at Regent’s Park Wildlife Garden

On a recent trip to London I decided to visit the world-famous Regent’s Park. There are several breathtaking gardens in Regent’s Park to enjoy. These include Queen Mary’s Garden, a glorious rose garden, St John’s Lodge Gardens, the Community Wildlife Garden and the beautiful tranquil Avenue Gardens. Lakes, wildflower gardens, secluded woodlands and meadows can also be seen. It is also home to London Zoo.  This world renowned conservation centre has over 650 species of fauna from all over the world and is the world’s first scientific zoo. Being a nature enthusiast the garden that appealed to me most was the Wildlife garden.

Just a short walk from Baker Street tube, on the South West side of Regent’s Park you will find the Regent’s Park Wildlife Garden.  The garden was constructed during 2006 and 2007 by the ‘Wild in the Parks’ team. It is a wildlife friendly community garden, designed, constructed and planted with help from local schools, community groups and volunteers. The garden aims to demonstrate how you can encourage and support wildlife in your own urban garden, even if it is only small, or if you don’t even have one.

IMG_5946 (800x600)The front garden planted with a selection of low growing plants was designed to show that if you have a car you can park it in front of your house without the need for a concrete drive. Front gardens are disappearing from urban areas at an alarming rate which means there are fewer places for wildlife to shelter and feed.

IMG_6126Tucked away in a nice sheltered corner of the garden surrounded by trees, hedging and wild flowers there is an insect hotel built out of recycled materials that was made by local school children.  The insect hotel helps to  increase the number of beneficial insects in the garden which in turn improves its biodiversity.  Much of the garden is also left to grow wild to provide cover for birds and to encourage butterflies and bees.

IMG_5949 (600x800)The main aim of the Regent’s Park Wildlife Garden is to provide a safe and friendly environment for people to visit and wildlife to flourish. Their non-intrusive gardening policy avoids the use of chemicals wherever possible, to use native plants that need little water to avoid draining precious resources and enrichment that includes a pond and bog to further the biodiversity of the garden. Ponds play an important role in the biodiversity of any wildlife garden. They provide breeding space for dragonflies, frogs and toads and are source of water for birds and mammals. If you have space, think about creating your own.

IMG_6043 (800x600)Local school children have been particularly busy with the creation of artwork which has been incorporated into the garden’s information boards. The boards provide information on how to increase the species of wildlife in the garden. Planting shrubs with berries to feed the birds in the Winter and leaving dead wood and fallen leaves for hibernation are just some of the advice shown on the colourful information boards.

Going wild at Regent's park Wildlife gardenAnother piece of artwork provides a central focus by the lake, an 8 meter long newt sculpture constructed from earth, turf and wild flower plugs and giving the impression that he has just crawled out of the water.

Going wild at Regent's Park wildlife gardenThe wildlife garden also has an interesting interactive sound bench powered by a solar photovoltaic panel. Visitors can sit and listen to tales from the local community on how their  parks are such special places. Over the years the amount of wildlife attracted to the garden continues to rise with finches, woodpeckers, long tail, blue and great tits all visiting with great regularity. Bird boxes, bat boxes and bird feeders are dotted throughout the garden to help encourage and increase wildlife visitors.

IMG_5951 (800x600)On the day of our visit the sun was shining through the autumnal leaves making this peaceful haven in the middle of London a delight to be in. Many of the plants were turning to seed and coming to the end of their flowering season. With the colder weather just around the corner the community volunteers were busy preparing for the Winter months ahead by ensuring to provide suitable hibernation habitat for the many species of mammals, invertebrates and beneficial insects to help enrich the local ecosystem, cleaning out and erecting new bird boxes, tidying parts of the pond and composting the garden waste.

IMG_5948 (600x800)The garden is open all year round to the public during daylight hours. This tranquil oasis in the heart of London is the perfect place to escape for a few minutes or hours and watch nature do it’s dazzling thing!  Cycling enthusiasts will be happy to hear that there’s a bike docking station just beside the entrance to the wildlife garden. A great way to get around to explore and discover the delights that the 410 acre Regent’s Park has to offer.

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Renewables in harmony with nature

BirdLife Europe is calling for “ambitious” and “binding” EU renewable energy targets for 2030. In its new report, ‘Meeting Europe’s Renewable Energy Targets in Harmony with Nature’, the conservation body says that renewable energy targets can be met without harming nature.

Renewable energy technologies do not harm bird populations, provided the most sensitive locations are avoided and established best practices in design and operation are maintained.

Meeting Europe’s Renewable Energy Targets in Harmony with Nature

Ariel Brunner, Head of EU Policy in BirdLife Europe says: “Climate change is a grave threat to both wildlife and people…….wind, wave and ocean power are essential and effective ways to cut carbon emissions, and do not need to put birds, bats or other wildlife in danger. Our report is essential reading for policy-makers across Europe as renewable energy moves to centre stage in the fight against dangerous climate change.”

Climate change poses an enormous threat to biodiversity all over the world and we need to develop renewable energy solutions quickly in order to cut carbon emissions and keep warming within safe limits. The report notes that “renewable energy must become the backbone of Europe’s energy supply”, but it also says that it must be developed sensitively. “The challenge we face is to protect nature whilst deploying renewables at the scale and pace required.” However, we need to develop the right solutions in the right locations to avoid negatively impacting on biodiversity.

With the effects of climate change already being felt and carbon emissions actually increasing last year, the need for new sustainable energy has never been greater. But we need to be careful that this renewables revolution doesn’t damage the very ecosystems it seeks to protect. With the launch of its new report, ‘Meeting Europe’s Renewable Energy Targets in Harmony with Nature’, in Brussels on 22 November, BirdLife Europe shows how we can meet our 2020 renewable energy targets without impacting on wildlife.

Meeting Europe’s Renewable Energy Targets in Harmony with Nature

BirdLife Europe supports achieving and going beyond Europe’s 2020 renewables target, in line with four key principles.

  • Renewable energy supply must make a significant difference in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Positive planning frameworks are needed so that the most appropriate energy sources are exploited in the most appropriate places.
  • Harm to birds and biodiversity must be avoided when locating and designing renewable energy facilities. Established survey, design and operation practices reduce or eliminate such risks.
  • Europe’s most important sites for wildlife must be protected. Where significant impacts on a Natura 2000 site (those protected under the Birds and Habitats Directives) are likely, development may only proceed under strict conditions, which must be robustly applied.

Harnessing the clean, renewable energy provided by the sun, wind, waves and tides is the only sustainable energy future for Europe. The renewables revolution can and must work in harmony with, and not against, nature.

BirdLife Europe/International is a global Partnership of conservation organisations that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources. Seventeen organisations participated in the making of the report, including BirdWatch Ireland and the UK’s RSPB.

Read the full report here: Meeting Europe’s Renewable Energy Targets in Harmony with Nature

Read summary report here: Meeting Europe’s Renewable Energy Targets in Harmony with Nature