In the UK, it has been the longest winter since 1962. We have also had a colder March than the previous months of December 2012, January 2013 and February 2103. Plus, in March 2013 we had the coldest optimum temperature since recordings began in 1910. So, should we worry about the effects, not only on us but also on nature and wildlife?
When we first moved here, hedgehogs were a frequent visitor to our garden. They used to breed in our garden and congregate on our patio in the Summer months. However, hedgehogs are here no longer; they are no longer animals that are sighted by anyone in our neighbourhood. They have effectively vanished. The number of hedges that have been grubbed out locally, plus the development of gardens is probably as much a factor as the continuing cold weather. Fewer places to hide and forage, plus harsher temperatures and this very long, winter weather, with a wind chill of less than 4 degrees below zero and this late snow is no doubt a factor in why hibernating animals simply can’t cope.
Cold weather kills livestock
The late snows and cold temperatures are also having devastating effects on farmers’ stock, especially in Wales and the uplands; the latest National Farmer’s Union (NFU) report that 25,000 lambs have been buried in snow drifts and have perished as a result this year. The effects of the cold weather are having a major impact on livestock farmers’ incomes. So, not only has this been a very severe winter for wild animals but it also has serious repercussions for man.
In the last 5 years bee keepers have reported that their hives have died; the result? Some bee keepers have given up bee keeping as hives are too expensive to replace every year. This is especially the case with amateurs, who do bee keeping as a hobby. This means less bee keepers, fewer bees to act as pollinators and then fewer apples and pears; in the south east last year was a poor year for apple production in the UK. largely due to the late frosts and also to the lack of bees.
This is the time of year when hibernating animals should normally begin to wake up and begin to forage. If they can’t wake up and then they can’t feed, their body fat will be used up and if there is no longer any food for them, they will die. The forecasts are for the cold weather to continue until the end of this week, that is to 7th April 2013. So what can we do to help our wildlife and ourselves?
To do list
Be aware of your carbon footprint and take action now to reduce it or offset it. “Think globally, act locally.”
Look at your locality and what you could do to minimise your impact on the environment.
What habitats could you try to recreate in your own garden space and neighbourhood? See our blog for ideas.
Could you start to grow your own food, in a garden, in tubs, a window box or on an allotment?
Try to think how you can make a difference to the ecology of your area?
Perhaps there is an underused public open space where you could garden with others to grow herbs for your kitchen?
If everyone took responsibility for their own part of the world; the world would instantly become a better place for all of us…and that includes the smaller animals amongst us too.
For more information on landscape and biodiversity matters, if you would like Landvision’s experts to draw up a BAP (Biodiversity Action Plan ), a landscape plan to enhance your own special part of the world or your site’s ecological sustainability, contact us via Contact us page.