Encouraging wildlife

Sheep foraging on common land

The New Forest National Park is famous for its wildlife. It has a superb range of natural habitats and, compared with much of the rest of southern England, has escaped large-scale urbanisation and agricultural intensification.

Although many of the Forest’s specialities are unlikely to take up residence in people’s gardens, others may indeed make their home in your back yard – if the conditions are right. Your garden has the potential to become part of the National Park-wide network of food sources and breeding sites. Gardening for wildlife is especially effective when several neighbours ‘join forces’ because many species need a territory or home range which spans a wide area. It is also helpful when the gardens are well-connected to larger wildlife sites via ‘corridors’ of trees, shrubs, long grass or streams.

By setting aside an area of lawn to grow throughout the summer and cutting it at the end of the season you will provide an excellent habitat for many insects - particularly moths, grasshoppers and beetles - and for newly-emerged frogs. A meadow of different grass species interspersed with wild flowers will also attract more insects into the garden.

Trees and shrubs, especially those with berries or nuts, are particularly important for birds and mammals. Native trees often support more insects than introduced varieties and it’s a good idea to leave some dead wood around for beetles.  

If planted with suitable submerged, floating and emergent plants, ponds are excellent breeding grounds for many invertebrate animals, including damselflies and dragonflies, and for amphibians. The wild animals usually thrive best if there are no fish to eat them!

Ponds and bird baths attract birds to drink, and of course many people like to provide food of various kinds for birds in the winter.

Find out more about wildlife gardening at Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust


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