People and the planet are only as healthy as the ecosystems we all depend on.
- Drinking water
Did you know that every three seconds, the world loses enough forest to cover a football pitch and , over the last century, humans have destroyed half of the world’s wetlands? A sobering thought indeed.
Ecosystems can be described as ‘the interaction between living organisms and their surroundings’. This includes human-modified ecosystems such as farms and cities, where The Aquifer Partnership is already working to protect our aquifer.
Urban ecosystems represent a radical transformation from the natural environment they have replaced and, unfortunately, are often degraded. Any development can lead to polluted groundwater, with the resulting loss of vegetation, soils, green spaces and natural drainage – and that’s why good planning is, and always has been, so crucial to create spaces for nature and the environment to flourish harmoniously.
Restoring urban ecosystems requires awareness and commitment from both residents and decision-makers to champion green spaces, encourage sustainability and create micro-ecosystems. For example, TAP partners are currently championing and developing rainscapes, which can provide protection against flooding and remove pollution from surface water before it enters the ground through natural processes. These mechanisms include time, sunlight, microbes in the soil and vegetation.
The way we manage land – even small spaces like gardens – can help. One way you can get involved and take a positive step towards improving your urban ecosystems is by being mindful of potential impacts when managing your own garden.
Here are a few ideas to help get you started:
Make your own compost
Not only is this a great way to utilise food scraps and reduce waste it is also extremely beneficial for your soil providing essential nutrients and improving soil health.
Need to use a fertiliser?
Sometimes plants need extra nutrients, when shopping for fertilisers opt for ‘natural organic’ or ‘slow release’ ingredients, which feed your plants slowly making them healthier while preventing excess nutrients from leaching into groundwater.
Pick plants that resist pests
Not only will you save money on pesticides but this also reduces the risk of contaminating groundwater and prevents harm to beneficial insects.
Practice smart watering
Save money on water bills and conserve drinking water by learning to give your plants what they need and no more. Use home-made compost to help retain water in the soil, water in the mornings rather than in the middle of the day to reduce evaporation, and invest in a water butt to collect rainwater.
Make space for wildlife
Plant native trees and plants especially those with fruits and flowers to encourage insects and wildlife into your garden. Let a section of your garden grow wild to provide a place to hide or breed, more insects mean a better feasting ground for birds and small mammals.
Happy World Environment Day!