Are you being your own cheerleader? On 8th March 2022, International Women’s Day, the Fortus team joined two attendee-packed celebratory ...
Earth Day 2023 Saving Our Woodland Ecosystem
20 April 2023
ONE MILLION SPECIES ARE AT RISK DUE TO CLIMATE CHANGE, POLLUTION, DEFORESTATION, OVERFISHING, AND LAND DEVELOPMENT.
(SOURCE: National Geographic)
For this year’s Earth Day theme, it’s “Invest in Our Planet”. Focusing on engaging governments, institutions, businesses, and individuals, everyone’s held accountable to do their bit. We’ve all contributed to the problem, now it’s our responsibility to change it.
Although Earth Day’s been going for the better part of a century now, in the early 90s Earth Day became a global phenomenon. Lifting environmental issues onto the world stage in a way that’d never happened before, it began to pave the way for unified voices and global action on environmental issues.
The 90s were a formative decade for me, and one passing comment from my father sparked a lifetime’s interest and dedication to raising awareness of the importance of the natural world. On one long (usually dull) journey down to Cornwall to visit my grandparents, the decline of the wild tiger population in India was on the radio. I was lazily half listening, as any nine-year-old might, watching the English countryside rolling by from the car window. My father flatly and plainly exclaimed, “It’s entirely likely that the tiger will be extinct in your lifetime Becks, you’ll only be able to see them in zoos, if at all.” The sheer enormity of that struck me instantly. How could that be possible? How could we just let that happen? Why wasn’t anyone doing anything about it?!
Now, I’m glad to say that the tiger’s still with us, and this is the kind of conservation success story that doesn’t get enough news coverage. Like all environmental success stories, it’s a story of hope, incredible dedication and hard work by governments, conservationists, charities and importantly ordinary local people, to stabilise a keystone species and protect ecosystems.
Here in the UK, there are some incredible initiatives to restore our natural world and increase our biodiversity and so, for this year’s Earth Day I’d like to celebrate the work of the ‘Wilder Blean Project’ which’s spearheaded by the Kent Wildlife Trust & Wildwood Trust and funded with money raised by the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery. It’s really easy to forget about the amazing work of conservationists across the globe and the fantastic projects that are being undertaken to restore our natural world and combat the climate crisis.
A lack of woodland management’s one of the eight biggest drivers of species decline in the UK. The Wilder Blean project’s an ambitious ‘re-wilding’ project that’s seen the re-introduction of European Bison into one of the largest areas of ancient woodland in South East England. Similar projects across Europe have proved that bison, known as ‘ecosystem engineers’, can restore the natural biodiversity of a landscape. Natural bison behaviours – grazing, dust bathing, eating bark and felling trees – enable other species to thrive.
Bison are another keystone species (much like the tiger!) and are an essential component of a dynamic woodland ecosystem. The return of the bison alongside Exmoor ponies, and Iron-Age pigs aims to transform the woodland into a stronger and dynamic habitat that’s more able to withstand the current environmental crisis and support nature recovery in the long-term. It’s an incredible and exciting project that everyone can be a part of by visiting the Bison and seeing them in their new habitat!
I’ve never lost hope that we can turn the climate crisis around and create a better future, and this project’s an important step on that journey, a small part of a bigger picture – much like Earth Day itself.
I strongly believe in doing what you can to help live a better life for a better world. To this end, I personally dedicate my skills as an illustrator to create a record of all the species of animals we share alongside the British Isles, raising awareness of the amazing diversity of wildlife on our doorstep.
To help celebrate the Wilder Blean project this Earth Day, I’ve added the European Bison to my collection as a limited-edition print. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Wilder Blean Project to help support their efforts towards our future.
Sometimes the climate crisis can feel like an insurmountable problem, but everyone can help, and no action’s too small to make a difference. You may not consider yourself a conservationist, but you probably are… For example: I use my art to increase the profile of endangered species, that’s part of conservation!
Here are a few ideas of small actions you can do at home to help towards positive climate action:
- If you have a garden, leave a patch of your grass to grow long and encourage wildflowers for insects.
- Leave out a bowl of water for birds in the summer, hotter days make it harder for birds to find natural water sources.
- Create a hedgehog hole at the bottom of your fence to help wild animals move safely through your garden.
- Build or buy an insect house from scrap wood, leaves, bamboo canes and other spare garden materials to help give insects somewhere to rest, especially bees in the hotter months.
- Carry a little vial of sugar water with you to rescue a bee on the ground. You can get these as keyrings and it’s a great way to encourage kids to help wildlife.
- Create a bird feeding station or put out seed and food for the birds. Did you know garden birds love left-over cake, cookies, and hard cheeses like cheddar? They’re all high in fat and are great for the winter months.
- Dog and cat fur can be left out for birds to use as nesting material. Tuck it into gaps in your fence or somewhere up high so it’s easy for birds to see and it’s safer for them to take, rather than placing on the ground. However, don’t leave out any pet hair that’s been treated with anti-flea, tick, or lice remedies as this can be harmful to baby birds.
- If you’re looking for plants for the garden consider some insect friendly species (you’ll find these in the garden centre usually with a label of a bee on a sunflower to mark them out as good for pollinators), or plant a fruit tree to help support birds with more food in the autumn.
- Install a water butt to collect rainwater to water your plants with, reducing your water consumption in the summer months.
For more ideas and instructions, check out this great online resource from the Wildlife Trusts: