A Mini Letts Safari in Your Backyard!
Saving the planet - one tree, one animal, one wildlife garden at a time
Letts Safari’s updates are mostly ‘straight from the park’, giving you a front row seat at our safari parks - online. But we also share tips and techniques for you to be able to create your own mini Letts Safari park. We’ve even created one in a flower pot!
Today we explain why it’s important to use our green spaces, no matter how small, to create little wild spaces that remove carbon, reduce pollution, save wildlife and nurture wild trees and plants. It could be at home, school, work and in the community. We call it garden rewilding. And one of the techniques we use is ‘wildlife gardening’, which we accidentally discovered in 2006.
The climate crisis is a real, multi-pronged threat to our existence. It’s hitting us in a series of waves. The first is global heating. The second a health crisis led by pollution and pandemics, and the third is the gradual collapse of the natural world. The combination could lead to an extinction level threat. Seriously!
Although this is terrifying, there are a number of potential solutions. One of which could be right under our feet.
We estimate that there are over a billion gardens in the world. There are even more front yards, back yards, industrial yards, verges, parks and small green spaces. Each of these could provide a vital cure for our ever present environmental destruction.
Through ‘garden rewilding’, gardens can be turned into carbon removing, biodiversity rich, wildlife havens. A mini safari park in your own back yard!
The benefits of garden rewilding include:
Storing carbon in the ground and reducing pollution
Saving wildlife species
Protecting tree and plant life for habitats, food and medicine.
We need to adopt innovations like this quickly. We can no longer rely on remote areas of wilderness to save us. They’re disappearing by the day.
Even the Amazon rainforest is no longer the massive carbon sink it used to be. It’s become so eroded that it has reached the point where it emits more carbon than it removes.
And thanks to deforestation its trees no longer provide the same impetus for rainfall across the Americas. No wonder there’s so much drought!
Global heating is causing mass-migrations, life threatening storms and the collapse of vital ecosystems. According to a UN report, from 2000 to 2019, there were 7,348 major natural disasters around the world, killing 1.23 million people and resulting in $2.97 trillion in global economic losses.
By comparison, the previous 20-year period, 1980-1999, had 4,212 natural disasters, claiming 1.19 million lives and causing $1.63 trillion in economic losses.
Much of this increase, can be attributed to climate change. Climate-related disasters jumped 83 percent — from 3,656 events during the 1980-1999 period to 6,681 in the past 20 years. Major floods have more than doubled, the number of severe storms has risen 40 percent, and there have been major increases in droughts, wildfires, and heatwaves.
Disaster risk is becoming systemic with one event overlapping and influencing another in ways that are testing our resilience to the limit. The odds are being stacked against us when we fail to act on science and early warnings to invest in prevention, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.
At the same time, plant and animal species are disappearing at an ever faster rate due to human activities. Some countries, including the UK, have lost 50% of their animals in the last 50 years. We are on a trajectory to lose 40% of our plants in the next few decades. The more animals we lose, the more plants we lose. The more plants we lose the more oxygen, food and medicine we lose.
1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history.
The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. More than 40% of amphibian species, almost 33% of reef-forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. Insects are not much better off.
75% of the land-based environment and about 66% of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions. As a result certain governments are calling for 30% of their land to be wilded by 2030. We can achieve this by restoring wilderness as well as by rewilding smaller green spaces. Creating mini Letts Safari parks in our back yards. We will need to do both.
But. There is an answer. We just all have to get behind it.
Several years ago Letts Safari adopted rewilding as a new tool for enhancing its eco safari parks. Indeed, we pioneered smaller-scale rewilding.
Rewilding is a form of environmental conservation and ecological restoration that has significant potential to increase biodiversity, create self-sustainable environments and mitigate climate change.
When nature is healthy, we are healthier too. We rely on the natural world for water, food and air. There is a growing realisation that connecting with wild nature makes us feel good and keeps us mentally and physically well.
Rewilding is an ecological infrastructure technology (with a small ‘t’) that can be applied to any size and type of land. Even though rewilding was first developed in vast national parks in the 1980’s, you can just as effectively rewild your backyard.
Garden rewilding teaches you to reimagine your garden as a space to build mini-habitats that store carbon in the ground, attract wildlife and nurture key plant species. Using small trees, shrubs, scrub, plants, ponds, grasses and wildflower you can design a ‘wild’ mini-ecosystem which is as natural and biodiverse as a larger wilderness. And you can apply the approach to all kinds of small green spaces - including green roofs.
Garden rewilding has spawned a new trend in gardening which is called ‘wildlife gardening’. It teaches you to recreate your garden as a place where put wildlife and climate ahead of traditional garden design. Where shrubs and plants are chosen to provide cover for animals and birds, where flowers nurture insects and bees and where wild grasses abound. A place that you design for biodiversity and not just barbecues. Where you coexist with nature rather than chasing it away.
Garden rewilding might not attract wolves, bisons and bears. But it does attract bees, butterflies, birds, bats, bugs and an exciting array of small mammals. Discovering your first hedgehog can be just as exciting as spotting your first lion. I know which one I would prefer to find my child playing with in the back garden. And for thrill seekers there are foxes, snakes and badgers to support.
If the ecosystem is designed correctly, it’s quite self sustaining. By rewilding your garden, nature will work with you so that you spend less time hacking away at it and more time enjoying it. Goodbye lawn mowers, leaf blowers and pesticides. Hello garden safari.
Did you know that you can use mushrooms as natural thermometers to measure the health of your soil?
In larger-scale rewilding magnificent herbivores such as deer, elk, bison, longhorn cattle and wild ponies manage the vast habitats, while driving the forces of habitat regeneration. With garden rewilding we’ve figured out how to mimic the benefits of the herbivore with human hands and feet, plus a new generation of gardening tools.
We developed one of the largest and most visible ‘wildlife gardens’, alongside our first Letts Safari park at Mamhead Park, in southwest England. Today it’s a regional showcase for garden rewilding. Through Letts Safari, and you - our members - we can share the secret source behind these extraordinary gardens more widely.
It starts by creating the right ecosystem of trees, wild grasses and shrubs, with wildlife beds and simple little waterways. Hedges become corridors, trees carbon removers, ponds marine habitats. But don’t worry, we’ll make it simple, so anyone can create a mini Letts Safari. We’ll show you how to develop your very own wildife garden through our updates. And we promise - no latin jargon gardening mumbo jumbo here!
Garden rewilding is a new opportunity for us to help fix the climate crisis one small green space at a time. Done right, it could prove to be a vital grassroots, community-based movement for this pandemic ravaged world.
Safari means ‘journey’ in Swahili. If we can persuade gardeners and owners of small green spaces to rewild their land, we can restore biodiversity across the planet. As we do this we will learn that ‘safari’ starts in our backyard. And by restoring nature we restore ourselves.
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