The Secrets of the Showcase

2013 marks the second year of Biodiversity Gardens and we’ve been thrilled at how involved the local community has been.  Over 600 people have attended our workshops, from bird-box building to an encounter with dragonflies, and nearly 2000 people have visited us at events across London. We felt this was a cause to celebrate and so we devised our Garden Wildlife Showcase; a free introductory afternoon of wildlife gardening and species recording to highlight the fantastic work our volunteers and partners have done, and how easy it is for you to get involved with improving biodiversity in  your local patch.

Wildlife Garden Tour

Wildlife Garden Tour: Dave Warburton (Biodiversity Officer) and Nicola Oakley (WCGS Biology Teacher) gave a tour of the school’s student-made wild side.

We were lucky enough to be joined by organisations from across the conservation sector that represented each main species group (birds, invertebrates, mammals, plants, amphibians and reptiles) – okay, so we may not have covered fungi and fish but there’s always next year! Each speaker shared their knowledge on how to recognise and improve your greenspaces for their specialist group. Species identification and recording lies at the very heart of the project so we were delighted to open the Showcase with a talk from Greenspace Information for Greater London, London’s biological records centre.

Talks from Surrey Wildlife Trust and People’s Trust for Endangered Species followed, detailing the many fantastic small mammals that can be found in and amongst our gardens and parks. Did you know that, at best, we have lost a quarter of our hedgehogs in the UK? Other talks included a quick look at our native and invasive herptiles (frogs, snakes, newts and lizards), the RSPB’s top 20 garden birds and a look at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Bugs for Plants project.

Species records are incredibly important to help conserve and engage people with our local wildlife. There are estimated to be between 5 and 30 million species on Earth and only 2 million of these have been identified and named!

GiGL Data Map

This is a map taken from GiGL’s website that shows the approximate number of records they hold for each species group. This is very different to the actual numbers of species within each group. If you want to find out which groups are under-recorded, join us for our Introduction to Spiders workshop (details below) – a hint is in the name!

Last, but by no means least, we would also like to congratulate our Garden Photography winners, including Mark Turner who won the Public’s Favourite. Do have a look at his website and blog – he wrote a fantastic review of the Hedgehog Home we included as part of our grand prize!

We would like to extend a huge thank-you to everyone who took part in or helped with our Showcase. We have received fantastic feedback from both the attendees and stall holders so we really hope this is something we can continue next year. If you have any thoughts or comments about the Showcase, or ideas for future events, please do get in touch by emailing us at biodiversity@sutton.gov.uk. A full list of speakers can be found here, along with several of the talks from the day.

Our next event is our free Introduction to Spiders workshop held at Sutton Ecology Centre with spider expert Tom Thomas from the British Naturalists Society. The 1-day course is on Saturday 25th May and includes a free lunch so please specify whether you’d prefer a meat or veg option.Don’t let your fear of spiders stop you from learning more about these fascinating garden helpers! Book now at www.sutton.gov.uk/biodiversity/events or call 020 8770 5820 for more information.

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