Nature has been our saviour during lockdown – it’s time to repay the favour

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This week the BBC’s Springwatch took over our TVs once again, but this time the seasonal show quite literally struck closer to home than ever before. With presenters socially isolating from their own local areas, it’s been a slightly less adventurous affair – and yet the message has never been more important.  Since being forced into quarantine, many of us have been engaging more with the great outdoors, be it by walking in the countryside or sunbathing in our gardens and balconies. Indeed, on top of relying on green spaces to stay fit, people in lockdown are realising just how important nature is for their mental health. That’s why now is the time that we should be thinking about protecting the ecosystem around us.

So how can you help? Well, to start with there are heaps of organisations dedicated to saving our wildlife who are in desperate need of support. It’s possible to join the RSPB, the largest nature conservation organisation in the country, for as little as £5 a month, and your money helps maintain sustainable habitats for birds and other animals across the UK, as well as funding breddin and reintroduction projects to keep our native species thriving. As a member, you also gain free entry to any of their 200 nature reserves scaling the British Isles, which are gradually reopening. If you don’t fancy joining the birders in the hydes, you can volunteer for a more hands-on approach.

You don’t have to travel far to get your hands dirty though; it’s just as easy to accommodate nature in your own garden. There are all sorts of creatures looking for a safe space to hide out, from the tiniest insects to fledgeling families. Start taking reservations at your very own bee hotel to help this ever-important pollinator fight years of decline, build your own hedgehog house or simply hang up a bird feeder or a fat ball for your chirpy residents (though be wary of greedy squirrels). If you really want to be welcoming, you could install a nest box for broody birds – we recommend boxes with cameras so you can watch the chicks grow and leave the nest come next Spring.

It’s also important that we keep tabs on wildlife by helping the experts with data collection. Take part in Open University’s Pollinator watch to learn how to identify the insects around you and share your photos. If you are willing to take a little time out to monitor birds in your garden, you can also participate in regular counts all year round via the British Trust for Ornithology’s Garden Birdwatch – don’t forget to watch out for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch in January.

If you haven’t tuned into Springwatch yet, it’s worth catching an episode for more advice from the nation’s favourite nature lovers. After all, if Chris Packham can’t convince you that our wildlife is worth fighting for, no one can.

Rosamund Kelby

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