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Overcoming habitat fragmentation

Date: 25 August 2021
Author: Colin Cooper
Title: CEO of Habitats & Heritage

Over the last few decades, it is difficult not to notice the lack of butterflies, bees and other pollinators in our gardens, local parks and out and about more generally. There have been numerous studies that confirm our anecdotal observations and the collapse in pollinator numbers.

One of the key problems is habitat fragmentation, which is when large and continuous habits get broken down into smaller, isolated patches of habitats. Fortunately, this is also a problem that can be overcome.

Our Green Hubs project seeks to create ‘stepping stones’ between larger green spaces utilising small, underused spaces to create thriving habitats. By improving these small areas, we can offer increased food sources and shelter to pollinators, birds, and/or hedgehogs. The project also aims to empower the community to learn about and manage each site with residents, companies and community groups encouraged to have ‘ownership’ of their sites. We hope to inspire and enable communities to take small actions that make a difference, and we are currently looking for further Green Hubs sites around Richmond upon Thames to link into our existing network of planned and developing Hubs.

In addition to helping support new Green Hubs, people can encourage wildlife into their gardens by leaving a space for nature. For example, rake those dropped leaves into a pile in the corner and stop mowing some, or all, of your lawn!

In the future we hope to undertake more work with local residents around creating hedgehog highways – we now know that one of the main reasons why hedgehogs are declining in Britain is because our fences and walls are becoming more and more secure, reducing the amount of land available to them. Hedgehog highways make life easier for hedgehogs by making small holes in or under our garden fences and walls for them to pass through.

We also work with Richmond Council on their changes to roadside verge management to encourage greater floral diversity and offer increased food sources and shelter for pollinators, birds or hedgehogs. Roadside verges can play an important role in connecting fragmented green spaces and we look forward to seeing how they flourish under different styles of management.

If you would like to nominate an underused space for consideration to become a Green Hub in the Borough, please contact us on biodiversity@habitatsandheritage.org.uk.

Habitats & Heritage is the local charity that cares for the natural and historic environment in south and west London. We want to see nature flourish whilst protecting and enhancing south and west London’s historic environment. 

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Updated: 9 November 2021