11 January 2016

Following on from our Creating habitat corridors’ blog and the importance of creating wildlife friendly spaces, another part of our Wildlife Connections campaign is connecting people with wildlife.

Although the idea sounds simple, there’s a little more to it! In built up areas it can seem difficult to ‘connect’ with wildlife as you may not really expect to see much of it around. 

When asked to think about our local wildlife and take conservation action, the question most often asked is “why should I?” Well, here’s why…

  • Health – studies have clearly proved the health benefits that wildlife and green spaces have on local communities. Just getting outside is good for us both physically and mentally. Our partners, the RSPB, have more information about wellbeing through wildlife, here.

  • Jobs – nature has economic benefits too – it creates employment. In Wales alone, the ‘management, use and appreciation of the natural environment’ is estimated to support 117,000 full time equivalent jobs. That’s everything from park rangers to ecotourism.

  • Services – wild plants clean the air and water for us. They also provide food and shelter for our insects, birds and animals, timber for our homes and many other uses too.

  • Water – peat bogs and woodlands help to secure our water supply and can help us manage flooding.

  • Food – insects pollinate many of our food crops – we couldn’t grow things like apples or tomatoes without them.

  • Recycling – creatures in the soil are vital for decomposing and recycling waste and making our soil fertile. Just think about the mess we’d be in if dead things didn’t rot away.

  • Balance – many species help with pest control – keeping nature in balance. A pair of great tit birds can get through 8,000 caterpillars in three weeks! Life without such pest control experts would have a huge impact on agriculture.

  • Great tit on a bird feeder
  • Inspiration – nature can inspire innovation too – did you know that many of our modern medicines originated from plants and the ideas for several modern technologies originated from wildlife? The common painkiller, aspirin, originated from a chemical compound found in willow bark and Velcro was inspired by plant burrs (the little sticky things that you often find in your dog’s coat after a walk in the park).

  • Capturing – plants are very important for capturing carbon dioxide from the air and building it into their structure – leaves, wood etc. This is the main natural way that carbon dioxide is removed from the air, so that it doesn’t contribute to climate change, and it is SO important!

  • Culture – many familiar species and habitats form an important part of our cultural identity, and are valued for their connection to a place or experience.

We can all do our bit no matter where we live. Wildlife Connections is also about contacting new people within our local community and inspiring them to take action to protect our wonderful wildlife.

Chester Zoo will be working with community groups in our local area to provide opportunities to become more connected with wildlife. By being involved in conservation activities in our local communities we can all take advantage of the benefits that being closer to wildlife can bring!  

We’ll keep you posted with our activities taking place across the Chester area and what the community groups get up to. So keep an eye on our blog for the latest updates.