Is nature bouncing back in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis? And will the lockdown hinder conservation efforts? RSPB England's Sara Humphrey explores the facts and the fiction behind many of the headlines.
As humans stay home to flatten the curve of Covid-19, millions of people have been amazed and uplifted by the nature they can see from their homes and while locally exercising. As a result, we are getting a lot of people asking us to explain exactly what is going on in the natural world outside our windows. We hope to answer some of your frequently asked questions in our blog below!
Is nature really ‘bouncing back’?
Research shows that pollution levels have dropped while fewer cars, planes and machines run around the world; our air seem cleaner, our waterways clearer. Nature seems closer than ever before, with birdsong delighting those taking part in our #breakfastbirdwatch and people noticing species in their gardens they might never have seen before, but why is this and what will this mean for long term conservation efforts?
I’m noticing much more nature at the moment, why is that?
With many of us spending more time in our gardens, local green spaces or watching out of our windows, it is easy to see why there seems to be more nature. For birds, breeding season is in full swing, so those garden favourites that have been less visible during months of colder weather are now in brighter plumage, singing loudly from treetops and capturing our attention as they search for nesting materials. Add in our annually returning migratory species and our skies seem busier with bird life than ever!
It’s not just birds that are more visible in our gardens either, bees, butterflies and mammals all start to become more active in spring months, as flowers bloom and food becomes more readily available. So yes, there is much more nature in your local area, but no more than we would expect for this time of year. We are just noticing it more as we seek #SolaceinNature at this difficult time.
It’s been proven that nature has benefits for both physical and mental health, so it’s natural that we would turn to nature to help calm us when we need it most. Connecting children to nature is proven to have positive impacts on their education, physical health, emotional wellbeing and personal and social skills, so incorporating nature into your home schooling activities is a great way to keep kids entertained and learning at the moment too.
Is nature doing better in my garden?
Millions of us have been making homemade feeders, putting up nest boxes, planting nature friendly flowers and giving our gardens a top to toe makeover in our attempts to keep busy at home. These activities can have long-lasting benefits to nature and you can find plenty more on our website to help keep you occupied. However, there are some hidden dangers to spending too much time gardening during breeding season;
Is urban nature faring better now?
With less human activity on our streets, we are noticing more wildlife in our towns and cities. All over the world, people have reported unusual sightings such as wild boar, coyotes and deer roaming around urban areas. Studies have shown that where humans and animals live side by side, mammals often adapt to be more active after dark to avoid danger. With less human activity going on at present, they may be quick to explore these quieter urban spaces during daylight, but if we return to our usual levels of activity once lockdown is lifted they are far less likely to be seen on our streets. Unless we change our behaviour in the long term, the levels of pollution and environmental noise are likely to rise again too.
What’s happening to nature in our countryside?
Our UK countryside is a maze of habitats, comprising thousands of ecosystems. Some of these thrive with no human intervention but others, like heathlands, need careful management to ensure species flourish. As you explore your local landscapes on your exercise, keep a keen eye out for nature, as it might be closer than you think. When these restrictions are lifted, we might find it’s made a home in some unexpected places!
How will Covid19 impact conservation efforts?
Like all other organisations, the RSPB is following government guidance and is only undertaking essential work on our reserves and across the wider landscape in which we work. While we are working hard to develop conservation plans for the future and to bring nature into your homes through our communications now, much of our UK and international fieldwork to save threatened species has to be halted to help stop the spread of Covid19. You can find out more about this in Martin Harper’s latest blog
This also means we are unable to raise the vital conservation funds we normally generate through our face to face fundraising, reserve events and other key income streams. Your continued support through membership, donations and supporting our campaign activity will help ensure that we can continue to address the global nature and climate emergency once the threat of Covid19 has passed.
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