Azara Blog: Suburbia a garden paradise

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Date published: 2005/05/27

The BBC says:

The urban gardener can now make even the smallest outdoor space a haven for wildlife, and buy in ladybirds, bumblebees and worms. Can suburbia rival the countryside for biodiversity?

With 15 million nationwide, the UK's domestic gardens cover an area greater than all of the designated National Nature Reserves in the country, according to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

And far from just manicured lawns and gnomes, many of them are being transformed into eco-friendly wildlife havens. Dumped are the packets of pesticides, instead it's pots of natural predators, such as ladybirds, that are flying off garden centre shelves.

Experts now think domestic gardens can provide richer habitats for wildlife and biodiversity than many found in nature. Research has also found while species are disappearing from the countryside, there has been a rise in diversity in the nation's backyards.

Up until now suburbia had been largely ignored by ecologists, and more was known about the world's remotest regions than the UK's own backyards. But recent studies have discovered domestic gardens are not the wildlife deserts many people assume.

Give (some of) the chattering classes at the BBC a gold star for stating the obvious. Unfortunately most of the UK chattering classes have still not gotten this far. In Cambridge, for example, garden after garden is being destroyed for the sake of squeezing another house (or sometimes a whole block of flats) onto the plot. The chattering classes on the whole still think that the monoculture industrial agricultural land that dominates the UK landscape is far more desirable than suburban gardens. As with most things in life, they are wrong. The countryside is sterile in comparison with your typical large suburban garden. (Of course the chattering classes might claim a lot of it is the "wrong" sort of biodiversity since it doesn't fall into one of their politically correct categories.)

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