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We can all play our part in helping nature recover.

It’s early spring and wildlife is emerging from its winter routine. Crocuses, snowdrops and hazel catkins are always early to the party - promising warmer days ahead. Bumblebees are being tempted out of hibernation and ponds are beginning to bubble with mating frogs, creating clumps of frogspawn.  


While this reawakening is a testament to nature's resilience, the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, with 19% of species lost since 1970, driven by climate breakdown and habitat loss. Nature provides important services - from pollination to filtering air, improving soils and decomposing waste matter. Where these are threatened, our ability to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate is further compromised. Taking all this into account, scientists warn that we must protect at least 30% of our lands, rivers, lakes, wetlands and sea by 2030. 


The North Yorkshire and York Local Nature Recovery Strategy, due to be published by the end of this year, will set out priorities for nature at county and local level.  At Zero Carbon Harrogate we have put forward our views on the urgency with which we must address agriculture and food systems in particular through nature friendly farming practices.


Whilst major policy intervention and cooperation is essential, everyone can help the natural world, often in ways that are not immediately obvious:

  • Look at what you eat. Buy organic, eat less meat and dairy, opt for local and seasonal produce, and even grow what you can at home. 

  • Grow a range of different plants. As weather patterns shift, some insects that depend on particular flowers might suffer, so plant a diverse variety of pollinator friendly plants with different flowering times. If you don’t have a garden, even putting out pots of pollinator-friendly flowers can make a difference.

  • Re-introduce natural surfaces. A quarter of homeowners in the UK with outside space have turned all or part of their garden into a driveway according to research by Aviva and demand for artificial lawns has escalated - these deprive these spaces of insect life and increase flood risk.

  • Put up a nest box. The RSPB website has information on the different types of boxes suited to different types of birds.

  • Avoid peat-based compost. Peat isn’t a renewable resource and is often removed for garden-centre compost from some of Europe’s most valuable habitats. It’s due to be banned by 2030. Buy peat-free compost or even better set up your own compost heap.

  • Leave pesticides on the shelf. There are lots of natural ways to protect your garden. The RHS has plenty of guidance on controlling pests and diseases without chemicals.

  • Get a water butt. Capturing rainwater will reduce your water consumption and it’s much better for your plants and your pond.


Nature is everywhere, we are all part of it. In the words of David Attenborough: ‘In our hands now lies not only our own future, but that of all other living creatures with whom we share the Earth’.

Anna Slatcher, ZCH Volunteer, February 2024


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