BBC Two’s Springwatch returns at the end of this month, and will feature the series’ biggest ever citizen science project – Gardenwatch.
The Gardenwatch project focusses on the last great and perhaps least known wildness region in the country – our gardens. These spaces cover an area of land three times the size of all the country’s RSPB nature reserves put together and provide a critical refuge for UK wildlife.
Conservationists say it is vital that gardens are surveyed in order to discover what species live there and what needs to be done to protect them and encourage more wildlife in the future. Gardenwatch will ask the public to scrutinise their outdoor spaces, and collect as much information as they can in a simple nature-related quest every week. All the data collected will help to map the health of the UK’s wildlife up and down the country.
Designed in partnership with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) the Gardenwatch survey will sit on The Open University’s nQuire site. The data collected will give conservationists a specific idea of what is in the nation’s gardens, as well as what British households are already doing to help wildlife, and crucially, what more can be done. By Autumnwatch, the preliminary data will be analysed by BTO scientists and the results will be shared with viewers during the live programmes.
Chris Packham, Springwatch presenter, says: “Gardenwatch is so important – gardens are an area that we can exert total control over, and therefore we can play the garden wardens in our own back yard, so we can really make a difference by attracting wildlife to it which leaves a great feeling of empowerment, especially as gardens across the UK make up an area the size of Suffolk!
“Getting involved in Gardenwatch and understanding your gardens can also create a great sense of community; you can work with your neighbours and collectively expand a habitat from your garden, into theirs – making a contiguous environment for wildlife by working together. You can share your ideas within a community which represents a wider collective opportunity to be had by all. For example, if one person puts up a bat box it may only be occupied by a small number of bats, if any; but if lots of people do it the ’take up’ of a species will naturally increase, thus creating a synergy for wildlife.
“And most importantly, the things we engage with the most are those who we share our space with – you can enjoy the wildlife that comes to you garden, ultimately improving your quality of life and theirs.”
Iolo Williams, Springwatch presenters, says: “The Gardenwatch survey is a brilliant way to get everyone involved with wildlife. Anyone can take part, no matter where they live, and the results will provide invaluable information on the wildlife of our gardens. Most important of all, it’s fun for people of all ages.”
Rosemary Edwards, Executive Producer says: “Our Springwatch viewers have proved over and over that they are amazing citizen scientists, turning out every year to help our wildlife partners with a huge amount of data collecting. This year we need people more than ever to participate in the Gardenwatch survey. This will be their chance to create brand new, never before published, data that will help us to understand our garden wildlife better. We’re a nation of gardeners and I know we can do it. We’re relying on everyone to join us and help make a difference.”
In addition, running alongside the survey, this series of Springwatch will follow wildlife gardener Kate Bradbury as she transforms her suburban back garden into a haven for wildlife. The series of films will equip viewers with practical advice on how they can adapt their own outdoor spaces to help the country’s declining wildlife.
And in July working alongside the Royal Horticultural Society and award-winning designer Jo Thompson, Springwatch will encourage the nation to rewild their gardens’, by creating its first ever show garden at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Show. Working with the Springwatch team and inspired by Kate Bradbury’s own wildlife garden, celebrated designer Jo, will create a garden to demonstrate the importance of wildlife corridors between neighbouring spaces because they allow insects, birds and mammals to travel from garden to garden in search of food and shelter.
Springwatch begins on Monday 27 May at 7.30pm on BBC Two.