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World Environment Day 2020 – Time for Nature

This year, the United Nations-backed World Environment Day states on its website:

“The foods we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the climate

that makes our planet habitable all come from nature.

Yet, these are exceptional times in which nature is sending us a message:

To care for ourselves we must care for nature.

It’s time to wake up. To take notice. To raise our voices.

It’s time to build back better for People and Planet.

This World Environment Day, it’s Time for Nature.”

A powerful message, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. I think it’s fair to say that the increase in walking and cycling has coincided with an increased appreciation for nature as people venture out into our city parks and country trails in search of fresh air and tranquillity.

Indeed, there have been many reported benefits to the natural world from the lockdown, most notably with the clearing of the waters in Venice’s canals and deer roaming the streets of cities around the world. In keeping with the British stereotype our wildlife has generally had a more reserved approach with people noticing increased activity from birds, bees and foxes, especially in urban areas.

So what is Biodiversity and why does it matter?

Biodiversity is ‘The measure of the richness and sustainability of an ecosystem shown by the range, number and connectivity of its species and habitats’. So the larger the variety of plants and animals, the better for the environment.

Ecosystems are complex yet fragile networks of interacting species; when one part is removed, the impact can be devastating. It’s becoming more important to protect the natural world around us as we learn more about the impacts humans have on these systems. It’s important we act now to reduce these impacts through ‘Building Back Better’ for the future.

What is EKFB doing to protect and enhance biodiversity on projects?

The UN vision fits perfectly with EKFB’s mantra of ‘Back to Better’, rather than back to normal, as we slowly start to ease out of the global COVID-19 situation.

  • As a contractor for HS2, one of our key targets is to leave our project with no net loss of biodiversity. The value of habitats were assessed prior to the project starting and we will replace any loss with equal or greater value.

  • We do this through the following hierarchy:

  • RETAIN as much habitat as possible by smart construction

  • MAINTAIN existing habitat and improve its condition

  • SUSTAIN new wildlife corridors in partnership with local communities, schools and farmers

Other key activities include:

• Identifying partnerships with local communities for fostering guardianship/ management/monitoring of new features and enhancement of existing ones

• Identifying opportunities to help local people reconnect and engage with the natural environment

• Working with farmers who already have environment stewardship schemes and local knowledge adjacent to our projects

• Designing for habitat connectivity with measures such as green bridges, oversized culverts, mammal ledges and strategical placed woodland/hedgerow planting

What can you do to help at home?

  1. Learn – take advantage of being at home to educate yourself on the species we live alongside and how they are being threatened.

  2. Reconnect - turn off the smartphone, look, listen and appreciate nature. (Watch your stress levels go down!)

  3. Share – use your social media platforms to raise awareness and encourage others to incorporate small protective measures into their everyday life.

  4. Act – any little bit helps:

  • You can change your web browser to Ecosia and for each search you make, a tree will be planted

  • Plant a wildflower meadow instead of grass such as my neighbour has done in a formerly barren verge

  • Build a compost heap in your garden and stop buying peat

  • Get the green finger! Now is the perfect time for a spot of gardening- do some planting and provide green spaces for habitats to thrive. If you don’t have a garden, having indoor plants or planters on your window ledge or balcony is another great way to improve your environment

  • Provide nature gates through garden fences/walls for wildlife

  • Compensate for plastic eaves by putting up nest boxes especially for struggling species like swifts

  • Put up insect houses/bug hotels for the rapidly declining insect populations (see links below on how to do it)

  • Plant nectar and berry rich flowers and shrubs

  • Recycle Recycle Recycle!

  • Move away from single-use plastics and research alternatives, like substituting beeswax wraps for clingfilm, or give using a bamboo toothbrush a go

  • Transition to a more environmentally friendly and healthy diet

  • Reduce the use of household cleaning products that have toxic effects when released into the environment

  • Avoid using pesticides in your garden

  • Have you considered creating a bee hive in your garden? Or you can provide water for pollinators particularly during hot and dry periods

What you have already done to help?

By staying at home more during lockdown you have already:

  • Reduced traffic

  • Reduced accidents

  • Reduced roadkill

  • Reduced pollution

  • Reduced energy use

  • Reduced CO2 production

  • Reduced global warming

  • Reduced noise, making it easier to hear the birds AND for them to hear each other (which is probably more important)

So don’t stop now!

If you would like to learn more about this year’s theme, click on the links below:

  • The World Environment Day website provides the opportunity to participate in various events featuring experts on worldwide biodiversity issues.

  • Register for events scheduled throughout the day, including an opening session with the President of Colombia.

  • A Practical Guide on this year’s theme, including resources to view and ways you can take action from your own home

And here are some practical guides for some of the suggestions in this post:

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