28 Jun 2016

As part of the Wildlife Connections campaign, we recently teamed up with local residents, the Canal and River Trust, a gardening group called Dig the Quarter and Chester Cubs & Beavers to help transform a space within the city and make it more wildlife friendly.

One species of plant that was introduced to the space was the native shrub, common barberry (or Berberis vulgaris) – a hardy plant which provides food for butterflies and moths, shelter for insects and birds. The species is also the main source of food for one of the UK’s rarest and most threatened moth; the barberry carpet moth.

Horticulturists at Chester Zoo have been growing this species of Berberis at the zoo for 4 years, where there’s plenty of space, before they are mature enough to then be planted elsewhere. Native species of all kinds are important to UK biodiversity, so by planting different types of plants we can help plenty of other wildlife.

Christine Fraser from Dig the Quarter tells us more about creating a wildlife friendly space in Chester:

There was a canal access ramp in the Garden Quarter, Chester that attracted litter and was overshadowed by undergrowth which made locals hesitate to use it, especially at night. But a volunteer group working with the Canal and River Trust started clearing it and local people carried on the good work until it was completely cleared.

Hear more from other Wildlife Champions here.

The next step was to start rebuilding the ramp triangle with raised beds ready for planting. Chester Zoo staff brought some Berberis and shared their botany skills and knowledge with the local residents, as well as getting stuck in with planting. Overall around 30 people were busy gardening and enjoying the day, plus the Cubs & Beavers gained another badge!

It was great to see different parts of the community all working together to create a safe space for local wildlife in their community. It’s a great example of working in partnership and I am proud to live in this community.

We look forward to seeing what wildlife visits this new space!

Are you part of a community group and interested in becoming a Wildlife Champion? Get in touch here, to find out more.

If you’re not part of a community group but still want to take part in Wildlife Connections there’s plenty of ways you can get involved – find out more information, here. Don’t forget to keep us posted with what you get up to, by recording your actions here.