An important feature we look for when setting out our camera traps, along with wildlife tracks and signs, is good habitat. One of our favourite habitats to place cameras is areas with wildflowers. Not only do they make for a lovely aesthetic backdrop to footage, but wildflowers are a great indicator of healthy and wildlife-friendly sites.
Wildflower meadows which incorporate species-rich grasslands support a vast number and range of wildlife species such as birds, bats, butterflies, amphibians, reptiles and mammals (large and small), to name just a few.
Unfortunately however, we have seen a dramatic decline in our native wildflower meadows. In the last century 97% of lowland wildlife meadows in England and Wales have been lost (State of Nature Report, 2016). This means that these essential environments make up approx. just 1% of land area in the UK!
Wildflower meadow importance: Case Study
The consequences of demolishing these fundamental floral pastures are already severe. Many of our native wildlife species are also in rapid decline with crucial keystone species in the UK facing losing battles if these vital meadows are not restored.
The most notorious example is of course the bee. Two species of bee have already become extinct since the 20th Century (bumblebeeconservation.org) and the rest are currently dealing with a plethora of threats such as pesticides and insecticides used in farming (mostly notably neonicotinoids), parasitic mites and of course losing their flower dense habitats.
Bees do a lot for us, principally with their role of pollinating wildflowers and food crops. By pollinating wildflowers they enable them to reproduce and thus ensure their survival, which is critical to the endurance or our ecosystems. The special and diverse mix of plants in wildflower meadows are at the centre of intricate food chains involving many other species including insects, birds and mammals – therefore protecting the flora safeguards the fauna.
It is also estimated that a third of our food in the UK depends on pollination – approximately 70 crops are dependent on (or benefit from) bee pollination, and in the UK the estimated economic value of the humble bumble and honey bee as pollinators is in excess of £200 million per year (The British Beekeepers Association, 2017). Losing bees and other pollinating insects will result in the decline of fruits and vegetables being easily available and a significant cost increase for these foods.
Wildflowers are so important in the UK, not only do they provide sustenance to a vast number of species (many of which are invaluable when it comes to our food crops) they also have specialised features to aid the protecting and efficiency of our landscapes and ecosystems such as holding on to rain water to help mitigate floods and the procurement of carbon.
How to help
We can help to alleviate at least one of the pressures our bees and other wildlife face by increasing the range of wildflower meadow patches available. To foster wildflower growth throughout the UK, NatureSpy are launching ‘The Wildflower Seed Scheme’. We would like to encourage all of our customers to plant a small patch of wildflowers for your local wildlife. When you order any of our Bushnell, SpyPoint, Minox or Yukon products you will also receive a 4g packet of wildflower seeds which is enough to plant 1m². Simply plant the seeds in any space available to you – wildflowers are also perfect in gardens! The full range of seeds included in the packet can be seen in the table below.
The wildflower seed mix has been specially selected for the wide variety of species it contains and its suitability to be planted in a range of site conditions. Simply find a little patch of your own and follow the sowing guidelines.
Britain has already lost many of its iconic wildlife species with more and more being persecuted or pushed aside with little regard for the benefits they bring.
It doesn’t take long to transform a little area into your own mini wildflower meadow and support the wildlife we do have left. Small efforts make big changes. Keep us up-to-date with your wildflower planting and progress using the hash tag #wildflowersforwildlife on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook.