Be a part of the ‘Big Wildlife Garden’

Posted on 22nd August 2011

Everyone has the opportunity to help create the UK’s largest nature reserve from today (Friday 19 August) – with the launch of the ‘Big Wildlife Garden’ (BWG) competition.

The competition – a commitment in the Government’s recently published Natural Environment White Paper – is being run by The Wildlife Trusts and the Royal Horticultural Society, with funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The Big Wildlife Garden competition encourages everyone to do some wildlife gardening on their doorstep. Anyone is eligible to take part – including individuals, communities, businesses and schools – and no space is too small to be transformed; be it a window box, school playing field or retail park in a town, city or in the countryside. There are six categories[1] and entry is free via the BWG website.

It is hoped that, through showcasing some of the best wildlife gardens in the UK, the competition will inspire everyone to take action and turn their gardens into wildlife havens; a great way of getting active and fit.

The competition is being launched by Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for Defra, alongside the new England Biodiversity Strategy (EBS). The EBS will set out how the Government will aim to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2020.

Launching the competition, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, said:

“No matter how big or small, every garden is a home for wildlife, and this competition gives gardeners the chance to be recognised for what their hard work has achieved, inspiring others to do what they can to make their gardens more wildlife-friendly. Ultimately, gardening for nature can create not just a local home for wildlife, it can help to connect habitats together from our neighbourhoods to our national parks.”

Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said:

“The UK’s wildlife is under pressure from loss of habitat. But, we can all make a difference by gardening with wildlife in mind. We want to see nature reserves around the UK being connected through pockets of healthy habitat within the wider landscape, in both urban and rural areas. Clearly, gardens are an essential part of this vision. The Big Wildlife Garden competition aims to raise awareness of the role we can all play in becoming nature’s guardians.”

Dr Roger Williams, Head of Science RHS, said:

“Twenty years ago few people really thought about the importance of gardens for UK wildlife. Now we know how vital they are.

“The huge interest in our ‘Plants for Bugs’ research project and our ‘Perfect for Pollinators’ label initiative shows how this awareness has changed. We encourage as many gardeners interested in wildlife to enter the competition as possible.”

Entries for the BWG competition can be submitted from today. The competition closes on Sunday 20 May 2012. Prizes include a wildlife gardening masterclass at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, where the prize-giving ceremony will take place, along with membership of The Wildlife Trusts and the Royal Horticultural Society.

Sarah Raven, gardener, writer and television presenter, will be on the BWG competition judging panel. She said:

“I am really excited about the launch of this competition. The more people we can get interested and involved in gardening that has a wildlife focus the better. So many positive and easy-to-do things can be done to make gardens wildlife-friendly and running a competition like this will help raise awareness.”

The BWG website contains top wildlife gardening tips and links entrants to a community of gardeners throughout the UK, with a facility to view BWG entries in their locality. It also includes a ‘My Garden’ page where information about gardens can be uploaded and stored. To find out more visit the BWG website www.bigwildlifegarden.org.uk.

Contact information:
Anna Guthrie (Media & PR Manager), The Wildlife Trusts
Office: 01636 670075 / Mobile: 07887 754659 / Email: aguthrie@wildlifetrusts.org

Tanya Perdikou (Media & Campaigns Officer), The Wildlife Trusts
Office: 01636 670057 / Mobile: 07887 754657 / Email: tperdikou@wildlifetrusts.org

Eoin Redahan, PR Manager Science, Trials and Government Affairs, The Royal Horticultural Society Office: 0207 821 3044 / eoinredahan@rhs.org.uk

Sean Armstrong, press officer, Defra
Office: 0207 238 1822 / sean.armstrong@DEFRA.GSI.GOV.UK

Notes for editors:
Competition categories include
• Small residential garden
• Large residential garden
• New residential garden
• Educational garden
• Community garden
• Business garden

England Biodiversity Strategy and Big Wildlife Garden
The Big Wildlife Garden competition has been created to recognise the importance of individuals’ action for nature, and the benefits it brings to people. The competition is being launched alongside the Government’s England Biodiversity Strategy. This stems from a commitment in the Natural Environment White Paper, published in June 2011, to ‘protect and improve the natural environment’ and to ‘reconnect people with nature’ in England. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is funding the competition, and has appointed The Wildlife Trusts and the Royal Horticultural Society to run it.

The formal launch of the new England Biodiversity Strategy and BWG competition takes place today at London Wildlife Trust’s Camley Street Natural Park, with an announcement from Caroline Spelman, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The Wildlife Trusts (TWT) wildlifetrusts.org
There are 47 individual Wildlife Trusts covering the whole of the UK and the Isle of Man and Alderney. All are working for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone. We have more than 800,000 members including 150,000 members of our junior branch Wildlife Watch. Our vision is to create A Living Landscape and secure Living Seas. We manage around 2,300 nature reserves and every year we advise thousands of landowners and organisations on how to manage their land for wildlife. We also run marine conservation projects around the UK, collecting vital data on the state of our seas and celebrating our amazing marine wildlife.

The Royal Horticultural Society www.rhs.org.uk
The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s foremost gardening charity, helping and inspiring millions of people to garden. We do this at our gardens and shows and thorough our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters.

Wild About Gardens www.wildaboutgardens.org
Wild About Gardens is a joint project run by the Royal Horticultural Society and The Wildlife Trusts. It aims to bring the worlds of gardening and nature conservation closer together. The project’s website offers a variety of advice on how to attract wildlife into the garden, including the best plants for birds and insects, and suggestions of things to do for wildlife – in two hours, in a weekend, or all year round.

Defra www.defra.gov.uk
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is supporting and funding The Wildlife Trusts (TWT) and Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) ‘Big Wildlife Garden’ competition to promote the importance of individual action for the natural environment and the benefits it provides for people. The running of this competition is a commitment in the Government’s Natural Environment White Paper that will help to both protect and improve our natural environment and reconnect people with nature.