Can small isolated patches of habitat really offset the damage we are doing to our environment?

Professor of biodiversity and conservation Kevin Gaston provides the answer

If you want evidence for the importance of gardens for wildlife, just look at the Biodiversity in Urban Gardens in Sheffield (BUGS) project, run by researchers from the University of Sheffield.

What they found was ground-breaking – 33km² of potential wildlife habitat covering 23 per cent of the city, with an estimated 360,000 trees more than 2m tall, 45,000 nestboxes, 25,000 ponds, and 50,000 compost heaps.

Everyone can contribute – that’s the key message

In surveys in 61 of those gardens, the researchers identified 1,166 vascular plant species – the most biodiverse contained 248 alone. There was a rich profusion of invertebrates from a wide range of taxonomic groups, including bumblebees, hoverflies, beetles and spiders.

meadow

But, says professor Kevin Gaston – previously the lead investigator on the BUGS project, now at the University of Exeter – you cannot compare the species richness of domestic gardens with that of ancient woodlands or extensive wetlands.

Gardens will compare well with much of our farmland (which covers some 70 per cent of the entire country), because this is species-poor and with low abundance where it is intensively cultivated, Gaston points out.

By James Fair @ Discover Wildlife - read the full article here


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