‘The bliss of a quiet period’: lockdown is a unique chance to study the nature of cities

The Guardian reports on two stories about the changes we’re seeing to wildlife as a result of Covid-19 lockdown. Check out at least one of these stories if only to see the unusual, but beautiful sight in their photo of a herd of fallow deer graze on the lawns of a housing estate in east London (sorry FNW don’t have permissions to copy it here).

The first reports deer roam city streets and hedgehogs can safely cross roads… but a radical policy shift is needed to protect wildlife in future, say campaigners. Britain’s wildlife may be thriving during the current lockdown but its long-term future is looking bleak, according to leading conservation organisations. Nikki Williams, head of campaigns at the Wildlife Trusts, said: “The current crisis means nature is losing out, because many organisations are having to scale back important work caring for special places, which they usually do with the vital help of thousands of volunteers.” 

The other reports empty streets and skies let the birds be heard and leave animals free to roam as well as allowing scientists to examine how humans change urban biodiversity. 

Red deer on a road, photo by Dunnock_D under creative commons.

It’s time to rip up fake grass to save birds and bees

The Metro reports artificial grass creates a ‘desert’ and should be removed to help wildlife, experts have said. The fake turf is becoming a common sight around the UK, chosen by many because it requires little maintenance. But it is doing harm to the insects, birds and other wildlife that live here and have seen their habitat shrink. 

Top photo of artificial grass by Perfect Grass under creative commons. Bottom photo of natural grass in a Normandy garden.

Social distancing for trees? Ash dieback pandemic less deadly to isolated trees, study finds

The Independent reports sparse spread in some areas and higher temperatures mean fungal disease isn’t wreaking devastation predicted for all populations of ash. The fungal disease affecting ash trees across the world has been estimated to be on course to kill 95 per cent of UK ash trees, and cost the economy up to £15bn. But a glimmer of hope has emerged for the species after new research indicates these figures may have overstated the threat. 

Lockdown leads to ‘cleaner air, more wildlife and stronger communities’

ITV News reports people are noticing cleaner air, more wildlife and stronger communities amid the coronavirus lockdown, a survey suggests. More than two-fifths (42%) of those polled said how much they value food and other essentials has changed since the pandemic and almost as many (38%) said they are cooking from scratch more. Other changes people have seen include 61% spending less money and 51% noticing cleaner air outdoors, while 27% think there is more wildlife. 

All the places in Gloucestershire you can visit virtually

Gloucestershire live report you can visit a number of places in Gloucestershire virtually – with everything from museums, theatres and forests. Thanks to BBC Springwatch, you can explore the beautiful Forest of Dean right from the comfort of your own home with their soundscape. They’ve compiled a collection of sights and sounds from the forest prior to lockdown and you can scroll through the images and audio here. 

Invasive grey squirrels carry a parasite that makes their native red cousins sluggish and threatens to further reduce their numbers

The Daily Mail reports experts from Italy and Belgium studied populations of red and grey squirrels. Grey squirrels pass parasites onto red squirrels that make them forage slowly. The presence of greys also alters the reds’ relations with their natural parasites. The team said that the pressure faced by the reds may lead to their extinction.

Photo by Denis Fournier under creative commons.

Fruit and veg self-sufficiency ahead thanks to heat from sewage farms

The Times reports Britain will become far more self-sufficient in tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and other produce under plans to tap heat from sewage farms and pipe it to giant greenhouses. Low Carbon Farming, which is building two wastewater-heated greenhouses in East Anglia, has identified sites for 41 more greenhouses, each larger than the Millennium Dome and located near sewage farms. 

Coronavirus: Keeping your garden flourishing during lockdown

Watch this video!

The BBC report that for many of us trapped in our homes during the coronavirus outbreak, our gardens offer sanctuary.

But what plants, insects and animals can we expect to see at this time of year? And how can we help everything flourish?

Nick Acheson, from Norfolk Wildlife Trust, filmed this report from his back garden explaining what to look out and what to do as spring comes into full swing.