Setting aside places for wildlife can seem hard in a built up area. Studying the map of Emersons Green shows that private gardens make up about half the total land in this area. So how would it be if these gardens became part of a designated wildlife reserve?

Emersons Green is fortunate in many ways. When the estate was built in the 1990s, many of the old lanes, hedgerows and trees were left in place. As a result we have foxes, badgers and even otters in our suburban area, as well as a broad range of birds including heron, little egrets and woodpeckers. This great spotted woodpecker has been a major community attraction!

But we realised that we could do more. Inspired by Felixstowe who were the first in the UK to go in this direction, we are now aiming to integrate our local authority managed spaces with private gardens so as to create one community nature reserve over the whole area. It is still early days for us, but 70 people turned out to our launch. Last weekend people came together to build more than 50 bird boxes and people have begun registering their gardens and telling us what they are doing to encourage wildlife.

The project is managed by our Town Council. Our wider authority, South Glos are also keenly in support and their Common Connections project aims to encourage others to follow.

The aim, of course, is not simply to encourage wildlife, important as that is, but also to shift the perspective of us humans toward a deep respect for the natural world and for the Earth.

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