Wednesday, 9 September 2009

How gardens 'are richer in wildlife than farmland'

The countryside has been so 'trashed' by modern farming that the average garden now contains more wildlife than the same size plot of farmland, a leading plant expert has claimed.

Dr Ken Thompson – an expert in garden wildlife at Sheffield University – warned that huge swathes of rural Britain had been turned into ecological 'deserts' without weeds, wildflowers or insect life.

In contrast, Britain's 16 million gardens were home to an astonishingly rich diversity of plants, insects, mammals and birds, he said.

But he said the fashion for decking, paving and plastic turf in gardens was undermining their role as urban 'nature reserves'. 

'If you compare a garden with the equivalent area of intensive farmland, gardens are much better in terms of everything," he said.

"There are more spiders, beetles, bugs and birds. It’s slightly heretical thing to say, but most farmland would be improved by having a housing estate built on it from a biodiversity point of view."

His comments follow a major three year study into the plants, insects, mammals and birds living in Britain's back gardens.

The project - carried out in Sheffield - found that a typical garden contains several thousands worms, spiders and other invertebrates, and around 250 plants, Dr Thompson told the British Science Festival in Guildford.

The three year garden survey looked at 61 city gardens in detail. The researchers identified 1,166 plants and 700 species of invertebrates.  Around 42 per cent of the plants were native to Britain.

The research found that small city and town gardens were just as good at attracting wildlife as large ones. There was also little difference in the quality of wildlife in urban and suburban gardens.

Gardens were an essential haven for wildlife driven out of the countryside by modern farming techniques, pesticides and the destruction of hedgerows, ponds and wildflower meadows, he said.

'A wheat field contains just one plant – and what can live on one plant? The wind pollinates it and there is nothing for bees or butterflies and no where for birds to nest,' he said. 

I agree with everything stated in this Daily Mail article, except for the reference to people who want to enjoy their gardens and install decking and paving. The reason that there are hundreds of flowers and plants for wildlife to enjoy is because gardening enthusiasts want to enjoy their gardens, and if the price paid is paths and decking then so be it.

Unfortunately a sad brigade of eco-warriors have jumped on this bandwagon and the extreme wing of that movement would stop us gardening altogether and turn our gardens into wild-life reserves that can be enjoyed by animals, but not by us. 

Sorry, but I don't intend to let those idiots stop me from gardening and cultivating thousands of plants that feed wildlife and allow me to enjoy their company every gardening day, and in the evening when we sit outside on the decking sipping a well-earned glass of wine I have no feeling of guilt. 

Why do extremists always attempt to destroy what is good?

No comments:

Post a Comment