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Six Ways You Can Support Nature This Winter

Garden birds, feeding on garden feeders, Wolfhill, Perthshire. ©Lorne Gill

Research has found that over half the people living in Scotland want to do their bit to support the local wildlife.

The research, carried out by NatureScot, during the pandemic, found that 52 per cent of people across the country wanted to do more to help support wildlife. Figures from NatureScot have shown that since carrying out the research, common garden birds such as blue tits, great tits, and goldfinches have risen in their numbers. Although the reason for this is unknown, the rise in bird feeders is likely to be a key contributor.

NatureScot Chief Executive Officer, Francesca Osowska, said: “We are in the midst of a deepening climate-nature crisis in Scotland. We are suffering the consequences now – we’ve already lost 25% of our wildlife here.

“Our winter campaign asks everyone to Make Space For Nature in their lives – from feeding birds and providing water for wildlife, to volunteering time to protect and restore nature. We know nature loss and climate change are inextricably linked. In appreciating the natural world and using nature-based solutions, we all have the power to tackle climate change, help wildlife and have a positive impact on our own physical and mental health.”

To help people continue making  a difference for Scottish Wildlife, NatureScot have launched their ‘Make Space For Nature’ campaign which provides seasonal tips on how you can help nature thrive.

Here are six things you can do to help support local nature this winter:

Let the land grow naturally to create shelter for wildlife.

Allowing your garden and other outdoor areas to become overgrown or filled with foliage can provide a safe space for wildlife such as insects, amphibians, and small animals to take shelter and hibernate during the winter months. Leaving borders and herbaceous plants with seed heads intact, also provides shelter for many insects that stay in the hollow stems during the winter.

Support the nature on your doorstep.

Over the lockdown, many people discovered local walks within their area and while doing that came across some of the wildlife that call both urban and rural areas home. Getting out and picking up litter or feeding the ducks are great ways to support nature in your area. When feeding the ducks, do not give them bread; instead, feed them sweetcorn, porridge oats, and bird seed.

Get outdoors, do your bit for nature, and have fun!

Volunteering is one of the best things you can do to help support nature and can range from helping to build paths, planting trees, and counting squirrels. As well as the physical benefits of getting out in the fresh air, volunteering can provide you with work experience and the opportunity to meet new friends. Some of the options available are volunteering with NatureScot, visiting Volunteer Scotland, and helping environmental volunteering organisations in your area.

Leave food and water out for garden visitors.

Leaving food and water out for the wildlife that visits your garden is a great way to support nature.

Keeping bird feeders clean and topped up with seeds such as sunflower hearts, quality peanuts, nyjer seed and/or high-quality seed mix will all attract birds (and maybe a few pesky squirrels!) to your garden. Remember to also leave a small bird bath out as well and keep it topped up with fresh water. Homemade fat balls are a cheap snack you can make for the feathered creatures and provide them with a great source of energy in the winter.

Got some bruised or over-ripened fruit you don’t have a use for?  Cut them in half and leave them out in the grass (or spiked on a tree if you have dogs and cats) to provide a tasty treat for badgers, foxes, and birds. Avoid leaving out grapes as these can be harmful to some animals.

If you have a pond or water source in your garden this can make a great home for fish as well as visiting frogs and newts. During cold snaps, water sources can freeze over causing problems for the creatures that live there. Gently crack a hole in the ice with a stick or leave a ball floating in the water to prevent it freezing over. You don’t need a big water source to attract water-dwelling creatures and leaving an old washing-up bowl or deep saucer of water on a windowsill can provide a safe resting place for wildlife.

Tell the world what you saw to support nature research.

Share your sightings of plants, wildlife, and more to help support research being carried out by experts. Uploading your findings to the iRecord website or app can help assist experts with carrying out research on local wildlife.

You are never too old to learn about the nature on your doorstep. Look out for frosty patterns on leaves, download plant or bird ID apps, listen out for local birds, look at spider webs, and notice how the seasonal changes affect nature.

Use the natural world to de-stress and improve your mental well-being.

Simply being out in the natural world can help improve your physical and mental health, help you feel more energised, and provide some stress relief.

Arranging regular walks with a friend, setting a motivational alarm for yourself, or heading outside at lunchtime to get a daily dose of vitamin D are all things you can do to improve your health.

For more ways to help support nature this winter, visit  https://www.nature.scot/makespace.

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